OLYMPIA — Chelan and Douglas counties have been approved to move to a modified Phase 1 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.

State Secretary of Health John Wiesman on Wednesday granted a request from the Chelan-Douglas Health District’s Board of Health for the transition. The board had voted Friday to apply for Phase 1.5, which will allow some businesses and activities to resume with restrictions.

Chelan County Commissioner Doug England said he’s happy to move to a modified Phase 1 but disappointed that the two counties could not move to a full Phase 2. The Board of Health will meet Monday to decide next steps, he said.

England said the only criteria the counties didn’t meet was the total number of COVID-19 cases.

“Hospitalization is extremely low and has been low for a long time,” he said. “We feel that should have been considered most. They didn’t take our full request; they modified it somewhat and put us on some restrictions. But we’re pleased that we’re at least able to move this far. The bright spot is the number of cases the last week has been very low, so we’re encouraged to be able to apply for a full Phase 2 very soon.”

Businesses allowed to reopen in Phase 1.5 include restaurants, retail, personal services and pet grooming, all at reduced capacity and with social distancing in place. Wiesman’s full letter of approval is attached to this story, with the list of allowed businesses starting on Page 2.

The Chelan-Douglas Health District must submit a plan to the state Department of Health for increasing the use of face coverings where social distancing is impossible and increasing testing for agricultural workers. It must also monitor the virus in the community and submit reports to the state department.

Chelan-Douglas Health District Administrator Barry Kling said those rules only apply to the district and businesses can reopen now if they can implement state guidelines. They should also read any guidance that applies to their specific operation, he said.

The Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce has a reopening toolkit for businesses available at its website, wenatchee.org.

“It’s not just a matter of businesses,” Kling said. “Individuals, I believe, still have a basic civic responsibility to wear masks when around other people except at home. That’s the best way to control COVID and continue reopening.”

Grant County was approved for Phase 2 on May 23, and Okanogan County was approved for Phase 2 on Friday. As of Wednesday, there were three counties in Phase 1, three in a modified Phase 1, 24 in Phase 2 and nine in Phase 3.

To be eligible to move to the next phase, counties must have support from the local health officer, board of health and county commission. They must show they have adequate hospital bed availability, testing and contact tracing capacity, and personal protective equipment.

The goal is 25 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days, with hospitalizations flat or decreasing. However, the Department of Health says metrics are “targets, not hardline measures” and the department will consider other goals as well as information provided by the counties.

Bridget Mire: 665-1179

mire@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter @bridget_mire