Modified Phase 1 -- What Does It Mean?
Posted on 07/17/2020

Updated July 30,2020


Benton and Franklin Counties have been approved for more business and recreational activities beginning Saturday, August 1. After reviewing the progress made in Benton and Franklin Counties in recent weeks, Secretary of Health John Wiesman and State Health Officer Kathy Lofy have eased restrictions for wineries, breweries, distilleries, taverns, swimming pools, indoor retail, and drive-in movies.

The following activities have been added: 

  1. Wineries, breweries, distilleries, taverns and restaurants can now follow Phase 2 guidance with the exception that indoor seating is still not allowed.
  2. Staffed swimming pools can open for lap swimming and small group swimming lessons in accordance with modified Phase 1 guidance.
  3. Drive-in movies are allowed without concession stands. Only members of the same household may occupy a vehicle.
  4. Indoor retail capacity is expanded from 15% to 25% of capacity.
  5. Outdoor religious services are allowed with tents and/or canopies

Benton-Franklin Health District and community leaders have continued to work closely with Washington State Department of Health to safely expand activities; high mask usage and improving case counts factored heavily in the decision to ease restrictions.

“We are proud of how our community has stepped up as reflected in our mask surveys at grocery stores, said, Dr. Amy Person, Health Officer at Benton-Franklin Health District. “We encourage everyone to continue to avoid gatherings, stay home when they’re sick, and wash their hands frequently,”  


Other activities not previously included in Benton and Franklin Counties modified Phase 1 are still not allowed. Other changes to the state’s Safe Start Phased Reopening Plan were announced by Governor Inslee earlier this week.

On July 2, Governor Inslee announced that Benton and Franklin Counties would be allowed to move to a tailored modification of Phase 1 of the Safe Start Washington plan.

Despite the fact that our counties continue to see high COVID-19 case counts, the Health District and city and county leaders were able to negotiate an agreement with the state to allow Benton and Franklin Counties to move forward in Phase 1 of Safe Start Washington.

The state was willing to ease some restrictions because local residents were going to other counties for non-essential services. Some business owners were also choosing to ignore state and local orders and conducting business in an unsafe manner, creating more risk for COVID-19 transmission. As a result, our local businesses who were complying with the orders were being harmed, case counts continued to climb, and nearby counties were put at increased risk of COVID-19 spreading from Benton and Franklin Counties.

Washington State Department of Health and Governor Inslee decided to enter into a negotiated agreement to address these issues and serve the public health goal of containing COVID-19. That resulted in a very limited number of low risk activities allowed as part of Benton and Franklin Counties’ Phase 1 status. This modified Phase 1 plan was tailored specifically to Benton and Franklin Counties, which means that our area was not approved for all of the activities included in Modified Phase 1 guidance in the Safe Start plan.

Washington State Secretary of Health John Weisman’s approval of the counties’ applications allows limited and modified openings for some businesses, recreation, and personal activities in Benton and Franklin Counties as follows:

  1. Construction as permitted in Phase 2 guidance. (new construction projects can occur)
  2. Manufacturing as permitted in Phase 2 guidance. (non-essential manufacturing)
  3. Restaurants for outdoor seating only at 50% of existing outdoor capacity. CLARIFICATION:  existing indoor seating brought outdoors - 50% of existing seating placed outdoors

     For the purposes for modified phase 1, “restaurants” include:

    • Traditional dine-in restaurants, quick-serve food operations, fixed and mobile food trucks, and other prepared-food operations, including but not limited to, hotel kitchens and workplace cafeterias;
    • Cafes, juice bars, and other businesses specializing in non-alcoholic beverages;
    • Breweries, public houses, wineries and other businesses serving full meals prepared on-site in building kitchen facilities under the ownership of the winery or brewery. 
  4. In-store retail at 15% indoor capacity with indoor activities limited to 30 minutes
  5. Personal services at 25% indoor capacity
  6. Dog groomers at 25% indoor capacity
  7. No gatherings with people outside of the household except for small behavioral health support groups of <5 people

Businesses that are allowed to reopen are required to follow the state Department of Health’s specific guidance but must adjust their occupancy to the levels identified above.

Employers must notify the employer’s local health jurisdiction within 24 hours if the employer suspects COVID-19 is spreading in the employer’s workplace, or if the employer is aware of 2 or more employees who develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within a 14-day period. Employers can notify BFHD using this online form.

Before opening, businesses MUST do the following:

  1. All businesses must sign a business pledge that they will following all COVID-19 guidance. Spanish business pledge
  2. Complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan -  Spanish COVID-19 Safety Plan and submit it by email or in person to county in which the business is licensed. (Instructions below) 
  3. Post the COVID-19 Safety Plan at the front of the business
  4. Require face coverings for employees and customers
  5. Post signs stating that face coverings are required. English Mask Required SignSpanish Mask Required Sign

Plans must be submitted to the county in which the business is licensed.

  • Benton County – please email to [email protected] or drop in large yellow postal box in the drive lane at the side of Benton-Franklin Health District.
  • Franklin County – will use Franklin County Treasurer drop box located in courthouse parking lot next to security building labeled COVID 19 business plans. Or email to [email protected]

Business/activities not listed above may NOT move from their status in Phase 1; this includes, but is not limited to,

  • Modified Phase 1 Miniature Golf, Putt Putt Golf, and Staffed Water Recreation Facilities (Public and Private) COVID-19 Reopening Requirements - Not allowed
  • Phase 1, Modified Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 Religious and Faith-based Organization COVID-19 Requirements - Only allowed at Phase 1 Level
  • Phase 1, 2, and 3 Weddings and Funerals – Proclamations 20-25 and 20-25.4 - Only allowed at Phase 1 level
  • Outdoor recreation and fitness - Only allowed at Phase 1 Level
  • Wineries and breweries and tasting rooms that do not serve full meals from their own kitchens - Not allowed
  • Professional Photography – Not allowed until Phase 2
  • Domestic Services – Not allowed until Phase 2

We must expand and improve behavior that will slow the spread like limiting trips outside the home, social distancing, regular hand washing, and wearing face coverings is public is crucial to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and allow us to resume normal economic activity.