OLYMPIA, WA — Gov. Jay Inslee announced today that ‘non-essential’ retail stores could reopen with curbside pickup, landscapers and pet walkers are able to work, and five smaller counties will begin to reopen more quickly.

All of the industry sectors Inslee listed in the first part of his four-phase plan to reopen the state are now able to resume business with some restrictions.

Despite the positive news, Inslee also warned that a key public-health number — the transmission rate of COVID-19 — is getting slightly worse.

The latest report from the Bellevue-based Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) showed that the estimated infection rate — which projects how many others an infected person infects — had risen slightly in Western Washington, and in King County.

“We are making progress in this fight,” Inslee said. “But I am very concerned about the situation we’re in today, despite that progress. Because we just are in a very precarious situation, we’re sort of poised on that knife edge of whether we’re really going to wrestle this all the way to the ground.”

The latest Washington Department of Health report brings Washington’s totals to 16,388 positive cases and 905 deaths. To-date, 235,835 Washingtonians have had COVID-19 tests. Approximately 6.9% are positive.

Inslee said that retail stores considered non-essential could start offering customers curbside services.

Businesses are mandated to keep employees and customers more than six feet apart during interactions, and screen employees for COVID-like symptoms. The guidance does not allow in-store retail activity for businesses considered nonessential.

Other safety guidelines issued Friday allow landscaping and outdoor workers to return to work, including pet walkers.

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