Spokane Valley Fire offers guidelines on how many customers businesses can serve in phase 2

SPOKANE, Wash. — Restaurants and hair salons around Spokane County could open as early as Memorial Day weekend- with a limited capacity. 

Some business owners are still wondering how many customers they can let in. 

The Spokane Valley Fire Department is getting calls from all types of businesses, even karate studios, asking that question. 

The Fire Marshal says the answer isn’t as complicated as some may think. 

“Our regulars are chomping at the bit and everybody is excited to see people,” said David’s Pizza Owner Mark Starr. 

He’s anxious to fill tables again. On a typical day, he serves 200 customers. During COVID-19, he’s been doing about 20 takeout orders. 

During phase 2, which could happen by this weekend, he’ll only be able to run at half capacity. 

“Are we going to make money at it, at 50 percent? Absolutely not. But it’s a step in the right direction,” said Starr. 

“The more important part of that is the social distancing,” said Starr. “So no tables larger than 5, and tables have to be seated at least six feet apart.” 

He’s just one of many restaurants in the County navigating these new rules. 

Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Greg Rogers says if you don’t know your building’s capacity, figure out the square footage of your dining area. 

The general rule? “It’s 15 square feet per person,” said Rogers. 

In retail stores, it’s one person for every 60 square feet. 

Spokane Valley Fire has a calculator on their website. For example, a 2,000 square foot dining area, at 50% capacity, could seat 67 customers under phase 2, compared to 133 at full capacity. 

The City of Spokane is working with restaurants to help expand their capacity, by temporarily streamlining the permit process for outdoor seating.

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