We, the business community of Bainbridge Island, gave it our all. We changed, we adapted, we socially distanced. We added brave new eCommerce efforts, curbside pickup and delivery options. We added Sneezeguards, so many sneezeguards. We bought (and used) all the cleaning products.
As supporters of shopping small and shopping local, we turned to our island neighbors for purchases to fuel our new hobbies (must…have… jigsaw puzzles!). We gifted gift cards, we ordered take-out. A lot. We kept to the rules, we got our shots, we got proactive in the interests of collective safety and public health.
And here we are, June 30 – the day of change. We’re one step closer to the new normal in Washington State, but what does that really mean?
- Restaurant, bars, movie theaters and most other businesses can resume pre-COVID operations without restrictions at 100% capacity unless they choose to require their own stronger rules.
- Fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear facial coverings, with a few, fairly obvious exceptions, such as hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, nursing homes, etc.
- People who are not vaccinated are all still required to wear masks in public places, but business owners do retain the right to require customers to wear masks and maintain distance. Some will choose to keep masks (especially, perhaps those who have smaller, low-ceilinged business spaces, without great air circulation). We will continue to pay attention on a store-by-store basis.
- WA State will continue to require students and school staff to wear masks during the summer.
- Travelers need to follow the latest guidance from the CDC, which depends on whether you are vaccinated or not. Either way, wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is still required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
- Some activities may require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. WA State recommends but does not mandate these for large outdoor and indoor events. Only the largest indoor events (those with 10,000+ simultaneous participants) are restricted to 75 percent capacity unless proof of vaccination is required and provided.
- Bear in mind that this still allows for thousands of people to get together and enjoy music, sports, comedy and more. At last. Do a little happy dance.
This is what we have been waiting for. Perhaps not all that we have been waiting for, but a big step forward, a much-awaited leap into the new normal.
Hug your (vaccinated) friends, share your stories, support your local businesses. Bring a generous amount of patience with you to our newly re-opening restaurants, bars and lodging establishments – many will still not be operating at full capacity due to the current labor shortage (a lingering knock-on effect from the pandemic). The Washington Hospitality Association estimates that the industry needs about 80,000 more workers right now.
The Grand Old 4th is here this weekend, run for fun, gather with friends to watch the classic car parade cruise by, head to the parks (any of them!) for a picnic. Take a moment to see how far we have come.
We still have some ways to go, but we live in a place that is 80% vaccinated, way beyond the minimums quoted by experts in herd immunity. Our community has come together, rallied, supported and survived. This is a time of re-opening, or re-awakening, of new adventures.
Stay tuned for more updates, for more announcements from your neighbor and your governor, stay safe and Go Bainbridge.
Note to Business Owners: Today is a good day to look on your noticeboards, in your windows and on your websites – this might be time to take down posters that are no longer needed, remove or restate signage, and help create new customer guidance for these new times.