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These resources – like the public health crisis itself – are constantly evolving and are only current as to the date of publication. This page was last updated on August 18, 2020.

For more up-to-date information on the relief programs available in Washington, we recommend that you visit the state’s COVID-19 Resources website.

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Description of Program and Relief

Safe Start – Washington’s Phased Reopening Plan

If there are no countervailing city or county restrictions, Governor Inslee has announced that certain low-risk, non-essential business activities may be resumed as part of Phase 1 of the Governor’s four-phase “Safe Start” plan to reopen Washington State’s economy. On May 29, 2020, the Office of the Governor expanded its Safe Start plan, effective June 1, 2020. The expansion moves Washington through a phased reopening on a county-by-county basis that provides counties more flexibility to open based on targeted metrics.  As of June 1, any county can apply to the Secretary of the Washington State Department of Health to move to their county’s next phase of the plan (described below).  The application process includes new target metrics set by the Secretary and must be submitted by the County Executive for review.

  • Permitted Phase 1 business activities include: landscaping and lawn care; vehicle and vessel sales; pet walking; retail (curb-side pick-up orders only); and car washes.

  • Permitted Phase 2 business activities include: dine-in restaurants and taverns at <50% capacity and no table size larger than 5 patrons; in-store retail; real estate; professional service providers and personal service providers.

  • Under Phase 3, permitted business activities include: dine-in restaurants and taverns at <75% capacity and no table size larger than 10 patrons; bar areas in restaurants and taverns at <50% capacity; movie theaters at <50% capacity; libraries; museums; all other business activities except for nightclubs and events with greater than 50 people

  • Finally, permitted Phase 4 business activities include: nightclubs; concert venues; and large sporting events.

The Secretary may approve a county moving in whole to the next phase, or may only approve certain activities in the next phase.  Conversely, the Secretary has the authority to return a county to an earlier phase. 

The Governor also announced new safety and health requirements for businesses operating in Washington’s Safe Start plan.  Beginning June 8, all employees will be required to wear a cloth facial covering, except when working in a no in-person interaction employment.  Employers must provide cloth facial coverings to its employees.

Government or Lead Agency

Office of the Governor

Dates Available

Effective May 5, 2020; Expansion effective June 1, 2020 to July 1, 2020

Eligibility Requirements/Restrictions

Businesses engaged in the foregoing activities must fully comply with industry-specific business activity guidelines that the State of Washington has issued for each of these activities, which can be found here.  Businesses should also check with their county government to be certain which part of the phased re-opening their

Businesses should check for any additional city or county restrictions. 

Application Deadlines (If Applicable)


Contact for More Information

For information regarding the Safe Start plan, including descriptions of the four phases of the Safe Start plan, click here.

For information regarding the expansion of the Safe Start plan, click here.

To contact the Office of the Governor, use this form

List of Additional Information

For a copy of the full Safe Start plan policy, click here

© 2021 Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. This does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. In some jurisdictions, this publication may be considered attorney advertising. Past representations are no guarantee of future outcomes.

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