Business and Workplaces
King County is in Phase 2 of the state's Health Washington - Roadmap to Recovery plan.
Phase 2 restrictions for businesses and workplaces in King County can be found here, in addition to reopening tools.
Public Health—Seattle & King County encourages businesses and facilities operating indoors to prioritize ventilation and air flow, plus outdoor, takeout and curbside offerings. For activities and gatherings allowed in Phase 2 that require advanced planning, such as wedding and funeral receptions for example, keep in mind that the state evaluates our region’s status every two weeks and can move us back to Phase 1, if we aren’t meeting their criteria.
Current Requirements by Business Type
Limitations: The new Commercial Service Airport Requirements are a statewide approach that sets baseline requirements at each commercial passenger service airport. It also encourages airlines to adopt certain health screening questionnaires, and to require passengers abide by face covering and physical distancing requirements in order to be issued a boarding pass.
Activities allowed: All construction, including new work and where social distancing may not be maintained.
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.
Activities allowed: Fitness and training and indoor sports maximum 25% capacity.
Activities allowed: Ceremonies and indoor receptions, wakes, or similar gatherings in conjunction with such ceremonies are permitted and must follow the appropriate venue requirements. If food or drinks are served, eating and drinking requirements apply. Dancing is prohibited.
Activities allowed: As an essential business, grocery stores continue to serve customers and follow guidance for keeping customers and employees safe. In-store retail, including grocery, shall be limited to 25 percent of indoor occupancy limits, and common/congregate seating areas and indoor dining facilities such as food courts are closed.
Healthcare and Service Providers
Activities allowed: Healthcare and service providers can use the following up-to-date resources to prepare for and respond to cases of COVID-19 in their facility, and protect the health of clients, patients, and staff.
Activities allowed: All non-lecture based higher education and workforce training, including where social distancing may not be maintained.
Indoor entertainment establishments (includes aquariums, indoor theaters, indoor arenas, indoor concert halls, indoor gardens, indoor museums, indoor bowling, indoor trampoline facilities, indoor cardrooms, indoor entertainment activities of any kind, indoor event spaces)
Activities allowed: Maximum 25% capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. If food or drinks are served, eating and drinking requirements apply.
Activities allowed: All retail activities limited to 25 percent capacity.
Activities allowed: Services via mail or curbside pick-up.
Long-term care facilities
Activities allowed: Permitted to provide limited services to patrons in-person. However, in general libraries should continue to facilitate services through the mail or via curbside pick-up where possible to limit interaction between staff and patrons within enclosed spaces.
Activities allowed: Any other business activity not specifically mentioned in this document, that can also be conducted in a miscellaneous venue, is permitted with the same requirements as the businessspecific guidance. Examples include retail, personal services, religious services, etc.
Outdoor entertainment establishments (including zoos, outdoor theaters and concert venues, rodeos, among other outdoor venues)
Activities allowed: Groups of 15, limit 2 households per group, maximum 200 including spectators for events.
Activities allowed: Customer occupancy limited to 25%.
Activities allowed: All pet grooming services including any location provided by an individual, or at a retail, veterinary, or other facility. All pet grooming services are subject to current guidance which restricts client occupancy to 50%.
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. All professional services are required to mandate that employees work from home when possible, and to close offices to the public. If they remain open, occupancy is restricted to 25%.
Religious and faith organizations
Activities allowed: Phase 2 still 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.
Ceremonies and indoor receptions, wakes, or similar gatherings in conjunction with such ceremonies are permitted and must follow the appropriate venue requirements. If food or drinks are served, eating and drinking requirements apply. Dancing is prohibited.
Activities allowed: Housing managers, staff and residents can practice and encourage social distancing, wear face coverings, manage and limit use of common areas, frequently clean high-touch areas, limit visitors, and more to protect themselves and their residential community.
Restaurants and taverns
Activities allowed: Indoor dining available 25% capacity, end alcohol service/delivery at 11 PM. Outdoor or open-air dining available, max 6 per table, limit 2 households per table
Activities allowed: Fitness and training and indoor sports maximum 25% capacity.
Activities allowed: Outdoor biking, running, kayak and canoe, and cross country skiing competitions with more than 12 participants are allowed, including triathlons, marathons, and more. Fun runs and charity walks without participant timing are not allowed.
Activities allowed: Staffed outdoor tennis facilities; guided ATV, paddle sports, and horseback riding; go-cart tracks, ORV/motocross facilities, participant only motorsports. The above outdoor recreation activities are subject to current restrictions.
Activities allowed: Golf, professional sporting activities, low and moderate risk sports permitted for outdoor practice and training only (no tournaments). Specific protocols for transportation, group size and facial coverings.
Indoor: Low and moderate risk sports practices and competitions permitted (no tournaments). High risk sports permitted for practice and training. For all indoor sports the occupancy of the facility may not exceed 25 percent.
Outdoor: Low, moderate, and high-risk sports practices and competitions allowed (no tournaments), maximum 200 including spectators.
Activities allowed: Indoor: Max of 5 people from outside your household, limit 2 households
Outdoor: Max of 15 people from outside your household, limit 2 households
Water Recreation Facilities
Activities allowed: By appointment only.
Resources for Employers
- King County's Small Business Assistance Program for small businesses in unincorporated King County impacted by COVID-19
- Timeline of statewide restrictions impacting King County businesses in 2020
- Guidance for Businesses and Employers - (CDC)
- Helpful summary of weekly updates via email, subscribe here.– (State of Washington)
- Return to Work Guide for Employers (Business Health Trust)
- Technical assistance for businesses (Business Impact Northwests)
- List of resources for small businesses (Ventures)
- Culturally and linguistically relevant assistance for business owners and organizations affected by COVID-19
Resources for Workers
The economic disruption unleashed by COVID-19 has posed great challenges for the region’s workers. There are resources to help workers during these difficult times and laws to protect your rights in the workplace. Learn more: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/workers.aspx
Public Health — Seattle & King County strongly discourages employers from requiring workers to get tested after they have completed isolation or quarantine. We have drafted a letter that you can share with your employer explaining the rationale for this policy. (https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/~/media/depts/health/communicable-diseases/documents/C19/statement-return-to-work-testing-EN.ashx)
Many people who have recovered from the virus continue to test positive for several weeks after they have recovered, but this does not mean they are still contagious. If you have completed the recommended isolation period, you are no longer contagious. Therefore:
- If you tested positive and had symptoms, you may return to work 10 days after your symptoms first appeared and your symptoms have improved, and you have gone 24 hours without fever without using a fever-reducing medication.
- If you tested positive for COVID-19 but didn't have symptoms, you can return to work 10 days after the test.
- If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you have no symptoms, Public Health recommends the following:
*Stay in quarantine for 14 days after your last contact. This is the safest option.
*If this is not possible, stay in quarantine for 10 days after your last contact, without additional testing.
*If the first two options are not possible, stay in quarantine for 7 full days beginning after your last contact and if you receive a negative test result (get tested no sooner than day 5 after your last contact). This option depends on availability of testing resources and may not be recommended in some settings.
Re-opening Toolkit: Materials to print for your business
The following toolkit includes all the materials you need to print for reference and to display, to help reopen and operate your business safely.
Safe Work Plan
Posters for Customers
Posters for Employees
Culturally and linguistically relevant help is available in-language for small businesses and nonprofits looking to find and apply for resources, access translation assistance, plan for recovery and safe re-opening, and more.
Re-opening Requirements for All Businesses
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.
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:
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.
Some jobs require higher levels of personal protective equipment because they have a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. You can find information about additional face coverings in Labor and Industries’ Which Mask for Which Task.
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: kingcounty.gov/masks
Require frequent handwashing and provide the necessary supplies. Supplies may include additional sinks or stations where employees can wash their hands. If regular handwashing with soap and water is not possible employers must supply hand sanitizer.
Download handwashing posters in multiple languages: www.kingcounty.gov/stopgerms
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. Each workplace should establish a cleaning schedule and ensure that high-touch areas are routinely sanitized.
Check to see if employees have any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 at the start of their shift. Use this COVID-19 Screening Tool and keep a log that the screening process was followed for all employees.
If they do, send them home and advise them to seek testing.
Exposed employees with a known exposure time (no longer than a day) should be tested no sooner than 48 hours from their exposure date.
Due to limited lab capacity for processing tests, only people with symptoms or who are close contacts of confirmed cases should get tested.
Unless they work in health care or long-term care facilities, employers should not require workers to submit a negative COVID-19 test result or a positive antibody test before starting a job or returning to work after recovering from the virus.
Workers can return when at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared, and at least 24 hours have passed since their fever resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications, and their other symptoms have improved.
Post a sign near your business entrance strongly encouraging customers to wear cloth masks.
Consider making this a requirement for all customers.
Some people are exempt from mask requirements for health and safety reasons. Reference this toolkit and educate employees to understand mask exemptions.
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. Read the guidance memo for Proclamation 20-46.1 about "High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights" here.
FAQs about high-risk workers
Can office workers be required to return to the workplace?
Yes. While much office work might be performed remotely, some employers may wish to return some workers to the workplace. The governor's Professional Services COVID-19 Requirements do not preclude or prevent this - employers may require some employees to return. High-risk workers, however, must be afforded "reasonable accommodation" to reduce their risk of infection.
If a worker is "high-risk" but has exhausted their sick and vacation time, what can they do if alternative work arrangements cannot be made?
High-risk workers are generally protected from adverse employment action under the proclamation, although employers are not obligated to pay beyond any accrued paid time off.
According to Proclamation 20-46.2, "Employers are prohibited from failing to utilize all available options for alternative work assignments to protect high-risk employees, if requested, from exposure to the COVID-19 disease, including but not limited to telework, alternative or remote work locations, reassignment, and social distancing measures."
In short, the employer must consider alternative work arrangements for high-risk workers. If impossible, the employer is not obligated to pay for unworked hours, but may not take adverse employment action.
Effective July 7, the Governor's Safe Start Proclamation requires employers in King County (in non-healthcare settings) to notify Public Health – Seattle & King County *within 24 hours* if they suspect COVID is spreading in their workplace or if there are two or more confirmed or suspected cases among their employees in a 14 day period.
- Face covering exemption toolkit
- Business Signage Toolkit (Safe Start WA)
- Business Tool Kit for Reopening (Association of Washington Businesses)
- Toolkits from the City of Seattle
- Domestic Services
- Fitness and Training
- In-Store Retail
- Personal Services
- Professional Services
- Restaurants and Taverns
- COVID-19 Handbook for Creative Sector
Find Face Coverings and Masks
Chambers and business organizations throughout King County have joined together to get face coverings, disposable masks, and hand sanitizer to businesses in King County.
Check with your city to learn whether there are currently funding opportunities available in addition to the opportunities below.
- Small Business Assistance Program for Unincorporated King County
- Small Business Funding Opportunities - Statewide and King County
- Community organizations that can help
- Check to see if any programs from the Small Business Administration (SBA) are right for your business
Paycheck Protection Program:
At least $25 billion is being set aside for Second Draw PPP Loans to eligible borrowers with a maximum of 10 employees or for loans of $250,000 or less to eligible borrowers in low or moderate income neighborhoods. Find more information regarding application requirements and technical guidance on the Washington State Department of Commerce’s website and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 business relief page.https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options
For non-medical questions about COVID-19, including compliance and business related issues, contact King County COVID-19 Business and Community Information Line at 206-296-1608, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
If you are a food business owner or a food worker and have questions related to your operation, please reach out to your Health Investigator or call 206-263-9566 to speak with office staff.
Restaurants and Taverns
Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR)
King County's Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) program provides education and materials to help restaurants implement state and public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It also increases the accountability of food service establishments to abide by the health and safety standards that support a safe reopening.