Phase 1 to reopen Washington begins Tuesday

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Phase one to begin reopening Washington's economy officially begins on Tuesday, May 5.

But even the handpicked businesses for phase one still don't know when they can get back to business.

The "partial reopening" includes outdoor recreation activities that can be pursued with appropriate safety precautions in place.

Activities permitted include fishing, hunting, playing golf, and day use at state parks and other public lands. Washington Governor Jay Inslee noted that measures could be scaled back once again.

Some businesses are ready, but it seems like they have more questions than answers.

At Honda Auto Center of Bellevue, they’re ready to hit the accelerator and get back to selling vehicles as part of the governor’s phase one. Just ask owner Jason Courter.

“This is very big for our standby employees," Courter said. "Since March, we’ve had two-thirds of our staff at home.”

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At Courter’s two Honda dealerships in Bellevue and Kirkland, sales dropped 90-percent in April.

Jason Courter, owner of Honda Auto Center of Bellevue and Kirkland Honda, talks about new reality of auto sales during Phase 1 of Washington's plan to reopen the economy.

Buying a car during phase one will look and feel different. No showroom visits. Instead, sales members will provide virtual tours of vehicles online.

Courter said, “We don’t believe overnight we’re going to get back, we were off 90-percent. If I can go from off 90-percent to only 50-percent, that’s a huge step in the right direction.”

Auto sales is just one of a few industries handpicked by the governor in Phase One. Along with:

  • Existing construction
  • Landscaping
  • Retail with curbside pick-up orders only
  • Car washes
  • and Pet walkers…

The governor’s office posted the phased approach online. It officially starts Tuesday, May 5. Still, most of the industries identified are waiting on additional guidelines before they can reopen. Today, state leaders said they’re scrambling, but don’t have a date of when those specifics will be ready.

The Washington Secretary of Health, John Wiesman said, “We’re really trying to take this cautious approach to what we know about this virus and the way it’s transmitted.”

The state has sent out a checklist for employers to keep workers and customers safe, when their industry is called for reopening.

That commitment can be seen throughout the dealership at Honda Auto Center of Bellevue.

There is plexiglass separating customers from workers at parts and service. The service center has one-way doors to maintain distancing. All employees are wearing masks.  As this business and others  focus on getting our economy back into high-gear.

Courter said, “You have to be an optimist and you have to know that better days are ahead.”

State leaders said they anticipate Phase Two starting June 1, with at least three weeks between additional phases. That means all industries may not be fully open until mid-July at the earliest.

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