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Many King County facilities are closed to the public. Learn how to access services remotely or while following social distancing guidelines.  
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Safe Start also available in Amharic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Somali and Vietnamese

Working together, our community has slowed the spread of COVID-19. Now, King County is working to gradually and carefully reopen the local economy and other aspects of daily living.

King County has entered the Phase 2 of Washington's Safe Start plan. Limited social gatherings may be held with five or fewer people outside your household. Restaurants, retailers and other businesses can once again serve customers. Most businesses will be required to operate at reduced capacity and hours, and all will be required to follow state guidelines designed to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers. These call for social distancing, regular hand washing and, with few exceptions, wearing cloth masks. Continuing to take these precautions is crucial to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and allow us to resume normal economic activity.

Each Washington County is moving through the four-phased "Safe Start" process at its own pace, depending on how much success it has had in slowing the virus.

Counties must remain in each stage of Safe Start for at least three weeks, until health authorities can measure their progress towards eliminating the virus.

General reopening requirements

Post COVID-19 policies in a language your employees can understand. Inform them about the symptoms and risk factors associated with the virus; the importance of frequent and thorough handwashing and social distancing; and the need to stay home when sick. King County has educational materials in many languages to help employers fulfill this requirement.

This poster explains basic information for employees:

Reopening business poster for staff: Workplace requirements during COVID-19

Reopening business poster for staff: Workplace requirements during COVID-19

Maintain at least six feet of separation between employees and customers at all times, including between tables at restaurants, customers waiting in line, and people using elevators. Businesses may need to print posters encouraging this behavior, such as only allowing 1-2 people per elevator depending on the size of the cab, or place tape or markers on the floor six feet apart.

When strict physical distancing is not feasible for a specific task, other measures are required, such as installing barriers, reducing staff or staggering worker hours.

Provide cloth face coverings and require employees to wear them unless they are working alone or have a condition that makes wearing a mask dangerous. Workers can wear their own face coverings, provided they meet minimum requirements.

Provide additional personal protective equipment as needed. In some cases, a plastic face shield might be necessary in addition to a mask.

Provide cloth masks and require employees to wear them unless they are working alone or have a condition that makes wearing a mask dangerous.

More information about face coverings and King County's Face Covering Directive:

Require frequent handwashing and provide the necessary supplies.

Download handwashing posters in multiple languages:

Provide disposable gloves where appropriate to prevent virus transmission on shared tools and other equipment.

Regularly clean and sanitize your workplace, especially frequently touched surfaces.

Check to see if employees have any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 at the start of their shift. Sick employees must stay home or immediately go home if they feel or appear sick. If an employee was at work while showing symptoms, restrict any areas where that person worked until the area can be cleaned and sanitized. Follow cleaning directions from the CDC.

Reopening business poster for customers: Prevent the spread of COVID-19

Post a sign near your business entrance strongly encouraging customers to wear cloth masks.

Consider making this a requirement for all customers.

Protect one another: Wear a face covering and keep 6 feet apart from others in public spaces.

This poster asking customers to wear face coverings is available multiple languages:

More details about these requirements

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has posted complete Phase 1 and 2 Workplace Safety and Health Requirements and a helpful summary of guidance. You can also find more information for specific sectors on Gov. Jay Inslee's website.

All employers must protect the rights of their workers:

It is against the law for any employer to fire or retaliate against a worker for reporting concerns about health and safety. In addition, Governor Inslee has ordered that employees in high-risk groups for COVID-19 must be granted leave if they can't report to work for health reasons.

Reporting COVID-19 cases in your business

At this time, most employers are not required to report individual COVID-19 cases to Public Health - Seattle & King County.

Employers who operate in healthcare and social service settings (e.g., senior living communities, homeless shelters, child care programs) should report cases to Public Health, while maintaining the confidentiality of anyone who is sick.

Other employers (non healthcare or social services employers) are encouraged to report cases to Public Health if they believe the virus is spreading through their workforce.

More information about what to do if an employee has COVID, and how to report.

Requirements by business type:

Activity area Phase 2 Permitted Activities and Limitations
Card rooms

Activities allowed: All card rooms or similar activities.

Limitations: All card rooms are subject to Phase 2 guidance which generally restricts the card room designated area to the lesser of 25% capacity or 200 individuals. The restaurants or taverns area of the facility is required to follow the Phase 2 guidance, which restricts capacity to 50% and prohibits bar service. Limitations on capacity does not include staff.


Activities allowed: All construction, including new work and where social distancing may not be maintained.

Limitations: All construction activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance.

Domestic services

Activities allowed: Any worker (hourly, salaried, independent contractor, full-time, part-time, or temporary) who is paid by one or more employer and provides domestic services to an individual or household in/about a private home as a nanny, house cleaner, cook, private chef, or household manager.

Limitations: All domestic services are subject to Phase 2 guidance.

Drive-in theaters

Activities allowed: All drive-in theaters.

Limitations: All drive-in theaters are subject to Phase 2 guidance.


Activities allowed: Staffed indoor fitness studios and facilities, including but not limited to gymnastics, weight and resistance training, martial arts, yoga, and similar instructor-led fitness services, as well as staffed indoor tennis facilities.

Limitations: All fitness activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which generally limits to groups of five participants or less.

Higher Education

Activities allowed: All non-lecture based higher education and workforce training, including where social distancing may not be maintained.

Limitations: All higher education activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance.

In-store retail

Limitations: All retail activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance, including but not limited to gondolas, zoos and aquariums, guided fishing, and all other similar activities, which restricts.

Library services

Activities allowed: All public libraries, public library systems, institutional and governmental libraries, and libraries at institutions of higher education.

Limitations: All library activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which limits services to mail or curbside pick-up and libraries remain otherwise closed to the public.

Manufacturing operations

Limitations: All manufacturing activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance.

Outdoor recreation

Activities allowed: Staffed outdoor tennis facilities; guided ATV, paddle sports, and horseback riding; go-cart tracks, ORV/motocross facilities, and participant only motorsports;

Limitations: All outdoor recreation activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance and are generally limited to groups of five participants or less, in some instances up to 12 individuals or three households are permitted.

Personal services

Activities allowed: All personal services including Cosmetologists, Hairstylists, Barbers, Estheticians, Master Estheticians, Manicurists, Nail Salon Workers, Electrologists, Permanent Makeup Artists, Tattoo Artists, Cosmetology Schools and Esthetics Schools.

Limitations: All personal services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts customer occupancy to 50% with the exception of one to one services in an enclosed room.

Pet grooming

Activities allowed: All pet grooming services including any location provided by an individual, or at a retail, veterinary, or other facility.

Limitations: All pet grooming services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts client occupancy to 50%.

Professional photography

Limitations: All professional photography services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts services to appointment only and for one client (and family member, if client is a minor) at any given time. Group sessions are not allowed unless the group consists of immediate family only.

Professional services

Activities allowed: Accountants, architects, attorneys, engineers, financial advisors, information technologists, insurance agents, tax preparers, and other office-based occupations that are typically serving a client base.

Limitations: All professional services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts guest occupancy to 50% of a building's occupancy with the exception of one to one service in a fully enclosed room.

Real estate (residential and commercial)

Activities allowed: All real estate brokers, firms, independent contractors and industry partners.

Limitations: All real estate activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which generally restricts out of office activities to appointment only and with no more than three people; office activities require reservations for in-person customer services and guest occupancy is limited to 50% of a building's occupancy.

Religious and faith organizations

Activities allowed: All religious and faith-based organizations may operate services including worship services; religious study classes; religious ceremonies; religious holiday celebrations, weddings, and funerals.

Limitations: All religious and faith based activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which generally restricts indoor services to the lesser of 25% capacity or 200 individuals as long as 6 feet of distance is kept between people from different households. In-home services/counseling is restricted to no more than five individuals. Limitations on capacity does not include an organization's staff, but does include volunteers.

Restaurants and taverns

Limitations: All restaurant and tavern operations are subject to Phase 2 guidance which prohibits any bar seating and restricts indoor customer occupancy to 50% of a building's occupancy or lower as determined by the fire code. Outdoor dining is allowed at 50% of capacity and does not count toward the building occupancy limit; additional outdoor seating will be allowed provided it follows Public Health – Seattle & King County's best practices and a restaurant secures any municipal permit that may be required.

Social and recreational gatherings Limitations: Individuals may gather with five or fewer people from outside their household per week. 
Sporting activities

Activities allowed: Golf; professional sporting activities indoor and outdoor; outdoor youth team sports and outdoor adult recreational team sports, excluding school-connected or administered team sports and junior hockey.

Limitations: All sporting activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance (golf and other sporting activities). Non-professional sporting activities are generally limited to groups of five participants or less; for team sports that can mean limiting to groups of five in separate parts of the field if separated by a buffer zone. Professional sporting activities may generally operate, including up to 50 people for back office operations, for full team practices and spectator-less games and competitions.

Answers to questions about the gradual re-opening in King County

Washington businesses that violate Gov. Inslee's order may be cited and fined for unsafe workplace conditions. The Washington state Department of Labor & Industries will enforce the rules. You can report workplace safety and health complaints to the State Department of Labor and Industries Call Center: 1-800-423-7233.

Call the King County COVID-19 Community and Business Compliance line: 206-296-1608. Ask for an interpreter by saying the name of your language.

The Department of Health recommends that Washingtonians follow the phase guidance outlined in Governor Inslee's Safe Start plan. They do not recommend traveling to other counties to seek services that may not currently be available in your county of residence.

Even as counties move into different phases of reopening, it is important to continue practicing public health guidance to the best of your ability. Stay home, wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, frequently clean surfaces, maintain six feet of distance from others, and wear cloth face coverings in public spaces.

This means that:

  • You can meet with the same five people during a week
  • You can meet with a different five people on a different week
  • These five people can be seen all at once or individually
  • Gatherings can occur indoors or outdoors, but outdoors is preferred. If you cannot maintain six feet of distance while gathering, individuals must wear cloth face coverings.
  • People can gather for any reason, whether that is for outdoor recreation like camping or a backyard BBQ with neighbors.

Safe Start is aimed at gradually reopening the economy, allowing more businesses to open and people to return to regular activities. However, the risk for infection has increased. As more businesses reopen and people get back to work and other activities, there will be more opportunities for COVID-19 to spread, leading to an increase in cases.

People who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness (such as people older than 60 or with other underlying health conditions), should continue to practice caution, even as other people and businesses return to more normal activities. Staying at home and away from others as much as possible is the safest thing to do.

Posters and other resources

Posters for customers and staff for reopening businesses

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