Spokane community calls Inslee’s reopening plan a sign of hope

SPOKANE, Wash. — For more than a year, we have been wearing masks, staying apart from each other and passing by “for sale” signs on buildings. The news of Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement to reopen by the end of June is a huge step forward as we work to end this pandemic.

We still have a ways to go, but people said Inslee’s announcement is another sign of hope we can all use right now.

“I can’t say that it’s been as hard as it has been on other people, but it has definitely been hard,” said Outlaw BBQ general manager John Lewis. “So just getting back to some normalcy would be fantastic.”

Washington is one step closer to that. If 70% of people 16 and older have at least one dose of a vaccine, the state can fully open by June 30th.

However, the State of Emergency will remain and ICU capacity could be a metric that changes this progress. If the capacity reaches 90% at any point during the emergency, the state will rollback activities. Currently, Washington is sitting at around 82%.

“It’s a big load off my shoulders,” Lewis said. “I know there’s still a lot to work through, but I feel that again, this is just a step in the right direction.”

People in downtown Spokane took a different kind of step on Thursday. It is one that is going to help the state reach its reopening goal.

“I’m getting vaccinated,” said Stephanie Gray who went to a pop-up clinic after being hesitant about getting the shot. “I was scared, honestly, but I figured might as well get vaccinated.”

Other people said they’re excited to open back up, and be closer to their loved ones.

“For me, I did it for everybody else and I got a new daughter,” said Joseph Harding who got vaccinated on Thursday. “It’s a good thing.”

On top of reopening, the CDC says people who are fully vaccinated do not have to wear a mask in most situations. Washington will follow these guidelines.

The new guidance calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but helps clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues. It even removes the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

Businesses can still require you to wear one if they want to. Lewis said it has been hard to police the mask requirement at the restaurant.

“As far as the guests go, I just don’t think we’re going to police it anymore,” Lewis explained. “I think we’ll still leave signage up about wearing masks.”

A lot of changes happened to our state, even our country today, but it brought us a little more hope as we work our way through this pandemic together.

If you missed Thursday’s pop-up clinic downtown, the Downtown Spokane Partnership will host another on at Fireman’s Park next to Brickwest Brewing on May 18th. That clinic will give the Pfizer vaccine and it will be open from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. A second pop-up vaccination clinic will be on June 8 for people getting their second Pfizer vaccine.

Downtown Spokane will have another clinic on Friday at the Numerica Skate Ribbon from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. You can grab some food, drinks and even take a ride on a scooter for free if you get vaccinated.

RELATED: Washington will fully reopen by June 30, maybe sooner depending on vaccinations

RELATED: Washington adopts CDC guidance, eliminating masks in most places for fully vaccinated people