Local restaurants have had to adapt to new rules during the COVID pandemic. Pictured: JP’s Tavern in Federal Way’s turkey club sandwich with a side of tater tots. File photo

Local restaurants have had to adapt to new rules during the COVID pandemic. Pictured: JP’s Tavern in Federal Way’s turkey club sandwich with a side of tater tots. File photo

State lawmakers propose bill to fast-track the governor’s reopening plan

Bill’s sponsors want to give legislature control over COVID-19 restrictions.

If passed, Senate Bill 5114 will put all businesses, facilities and organizations into “Phase 2” of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery plan.

One of the bill’s primary sponsors, Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia), said the bill will provide much-needed relief to small businesses in need of cash flow after COVID-19 restrictions forced them to either close or reduce their service.

“[Small businesses] are having a really hard time,” Braun said. “This gives them a path to survival.”

Braun said he believes some of the restrictions like those on restaurants preventing indoor service are “arbitrary” and not as effective in limiting the spread of the virus as they were intended to be. He referred to some early statistics from the Department of Health that estimated a marginal amount of infections being contracted at restaurants. Private gatherings are what Braun believes have been more responsible for the spread of the virus, and he said they have only been made more common in lieu of restaurants, bars and venues.

Another sponsor of the bill, and the sole Democratic sponsor, Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), said Washington is one of less than five states that still is prohibiting indoor dining at restaurants, with 41 other states allowing higher than 50 percent restaurant capacity.

Mullet said the bill allows the Legislature to make decisions about the state coronavirus policies as it relates to public commerce.

It even includes provisions for the Legislature to “regularly review” public health data to make decisions about community-specific restrictions, potentially usurping the governor’s authority to make those decisions during the legislative session.

“We can monitor it,” Mullet said. “We have the same public health data [the Governor’s Office] has.”

Mullet also said the state’s effectiveness in the fight against the virus has and will continue to depend on individual choices within the lives of private residents.

Braun said the Legislature can always vote to reinstate restrictions on businesses and communities if the data shows an uptick in infections.

Through the pandemic, Republicans in the state have been critical of the governor’s unilateral approach to COVID-19 restrictions that bypassed legislative input.

“The goal is to provide perspective around the state that until this point has been missing,” Braun said.

Braun said he trusts that customers will make good decisions about risk when it comes to public behavior in the future.

“We can work together in goodwill to support public health and the economy,” Braun said. “They are not mutually exclusive.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

In Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Inslee recently announced all counties will be staying in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan for the next several weeks. Pictured: People enjoy outdoor dining last summer in downtown Kent. Courtesy photo
Inslee: All of Washington to stay in Phase 2 for a few weeks

The governor issued a weekslong pause on regions moving backward, but has yet to outline a Phase 3.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo
King County libraries will reopen in some cities for in-person services

Fall City, Kent libraries among six selected for partial reopening.

A South King Fire & Rescue firefighter places a used test swab into a secure COVID test vial on Nov. 18, 2020, at a Federal Way testing site. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Masks are still king in combating new COVID strains

A top UW doctor talks new strains, masks and when normal could return.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Democrats look to allow noncitizens to serve on school boards

A Senate bill takes aim at a state law requiring anyone seeking elected office to be a citizen.

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
State health leader: We have a plan, we don’t have the supply

Two months after the COVID vaccine landed in Washington, many still struggle to secure their shots.

An Island Park Elementary teacher and her students hit the books on Feb. 8 in the Mercer Island School District. The single largest amount of Gov. Jay Inslee’s newly announce relief package, $668 million, will go to public elementary and secondary schools to prepare for reopening for some in-person learning and to address students’ learning loss. Courtesy photo
Inslee signs $2.2 billion COVID relief package

The federal funds will go to fight COVID, aid renters and reopen shuttered schools and businesses.

File photo
How the pandemic and coronavirus variants can show us evolution in real time

Scientists say viruses reproduce and mutate at higher rates, creating viral variants.

Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf, an ob-gyn with the University of Washington School of Medicine and senior author of the report (Photo Credit: University of Washington School of Medicine)
UW study shows high COVID infection rates among pregnant women

Study shows infection rates to be two to four times higher than expected among minority groups.

file photo
King County prosecutor’s charge man in killing of his 8-year-old son

Police say man is suspected of February murder in community East of Redmond.

Most Read