Reopening! An economy unmasked. It’s within sight, as governor sets June 30 as date for ending restrictions.

Governor Inslee announced yesterday that the state can reopen June 30. That’s ho we interpret what he said,

Gov. Jay Inslee today announced that the state is moving toward a statewide June 30 reopening date and that all counties in Washington will move to Phase 3 of the Healthy WA: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan effective May 18 until June 30.

The announcement comes after the governor paused phase movement for two weeks to review an emerging flattening trend in statewide COVID-19 data. As of today, the plateau observed in COVID-19 activity has become a decline.

“What we know now gives us the confidence to close this chapter in this pandemic and begin another,” Inslee said at a press conference Thursday. “This next part of our fight to save lives in Washington will focus on increasing vaccination rates and continuing to monitor variants of concern as we move toward reopening our state.”

His action follows the announcement from the CDC 

that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace 

Summer’s beginning to look a lot better. More on the CDC announcement from the Associated Press

Crosscut reports that Inslee holds open the possibility of an earlier reopening even as he says there’s still more to be done.

Inslee also offered a big new carrot to Washingtonians still on the fence about getting the coronavirus vaccine: If the percentage of people age 16 and older with at least one shot reaches 70%, full reopening will happen even sooner. King County has already passed that milestone and new cases of the virus are trending steadily downward.

“This does not mean that our state of emergency will end on June 30,” Inslee said. “The virus is not done with us.”

The Seattle Times reports,

The developments come the same day that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced relaxed guidelines for the wearing of masks by those fully vaccinated.

Washington will also adopt those guidelines, Inslee said, which will allow masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

And starting immediately, the state will ease restrictions for groups of fully vaccinated people.

For example, events like outdoor and indoor sports won’t have capacity limits for the number of attendees who have been vaccinated. Likewise, weddings and funerals will be allowed at full capacity if the attendees have all been vaccinated.

In the meantime, starting Tuesday and until a full reopening date, all of Washington’s 39 counties will be in the third and least-restrictive phase of the governor’s current “Healthy Washington” plan.

Thursday’s announcement marks a turning point for Washington after more than a year of unprecedented restrictions to curb a pandemic that has fundamentally reordered social and economic life.

The Association of Washington Business celebrated the announcement.

Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business, offered the following statement today regarding Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement that most COVID-19 business restrictions will be lifted by the end of June or sooner if 70% of Washingtonians are vaccinated:

“This is good news for Washington employers after a year of challenges and setbacks. We hope this truly marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic and that we can begin the hard work of rebuilding Washington’s economy.

“Vaccines have played a critical role in getting us to this point, and we know that continued vaccination is key to bringing the virus under control, getting people back to work and returning our daily lives to something resembling normal.

“Gov. Inslee highlighted the important function chambers of commerce can play in this effort, and AWB is committed to working with local chambers to help vaccinate as many people as possible. Chambers of commerce are integral institutions in many communities, connecting small businesses with each other and with their neighbors. They are ideal partners in the effort to expand access and awareness to vaccines.

“More than a year into the pandemic, there are more reasons than ever for optimism. But we recognize that many challenges remain, and we all have a role to play. We can move beyond the pandemic if we all roll up our sleeves and get armed against COVID-19.”

The Seattle Times reports optimism and uncertainty among Seattle businesses.

Across Washington state’s business community, Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to fully reopen the state economy next month was greeted with a mix of optimism and uncertainty. 

Industry and business groups were largely jubilant over Inslee’s announcement Thursday that the state’s broad COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted by June 30, or sooner if vaccination rates increase. 

“This news comes as a ray of hope,” said Mark Canlis, co-owner of Seattle’s Canlis restaurant. “Everything we’ve done for 14 months has been to survive.”

“Today’s announcement suggests we are on the cusp of finally turning the corner on this pandemic,” added Tammie Hetrick, president and CEO of the Washington Food Industry Association, the industry group representing grocers, in a statement Thursday. 

Concerns, the story reports, include finding enough workers to staff properly for full reopening, whether the customers will arrive on schedule, and sorting out customers’ vaccination status. Still,

Some businesses leaders said the June 30 date gives businesses enough time to plan for reopening as well as confidence to staff up and make other reopening investments.

Inslee’s announcement “is hugely important for overall planning and more certainty for our businesses and residents,” said Patrick Bannon, president of the Bellevue Downtown Association.

it’s time.