Business and Workplaces
Phase 2 guidance and requirements by industry, posters for re-opening, funding opportunities, and more resources for businesses and workplaces.
Business owners with questions about how the emergency orders apply to them can contact the governor’s office via webform at: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/how-you-can-help/covid-19-business-and-worker-inquiries.
Phase 2 Requirements by Business Type
|Activity area||Phase 2 Permitted Activities and Limitations|
Activities allowed: These guidelines apply to livestock and horse exhibitions/shows/sales/auctions, companion animal (dog, cats, rabbits, etc.) shows, or any substantially similar event.
Agritourism such as U-pick farms and tree farms are allowed to operate following certain requirements.
League play is allowed as long as facilities meet certain requirements.
New Limitations, in effect: Not allowed until Phase 4.
Activities allowed: All construction, including new work and where social distancing may not be maintained.
Limitations: All construction activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance.
Activities allowed: Any worker (hourly, salaried, independent contractor, full-time, part-time, or temporary) who is paid by one or more employer and provides domestic services to an individual or household in/about a private home as a nanny, house cleaner, cook, private chef, or household manager.
Limitations: All domestic services are subject to Phase 2 guidance.
Activities allowed: All drive-in theaters.
Limitations: All drive-in theaters are subject to Phase 2 guidance.
New Limitations, in effect: Outdoor training is preferred, but when indoors, the following new limitations apply, including: Increased social distancing of 300 square feet and wearing face coverings indoors, 5 individuals max (not counting staff) or 25% capacity for facilities larger than 12,000 square feet. Indoor fitness places include but are not limited to gyms, studios and sports facilities.
Limitations: Receptions and ceremonies must be capped at 30 people, or 25% of venue occupancy, whichever is less. All tables at the reception must be seated by household, with table sizes capped at 5 people. Facial coverings are required, and social distancing must be maintained
Activities allowed: As an essential business, grocery stores continue to serve customers and follow guidance for keeping customers and employees safe.
Limitations: Grocery stores must apply social distancing, employee safety recommendations, sanitation practices, prohibit food sampling and self-serve stations.
|Healthcare and Service Providers||
Limitations: Healthcare and service providers can use the following up-to-date resources to prepare for and respond to cases of COVID-19 in their facility, and protect the health of clients, patients, and staff.
Activities allowed: All non-lecture based higher education and workforce training, including where social distancing may not be maintained.
Limitations: All higher education activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance.
Limitations: All retail activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance, including but not limited to gondolas, zoos and aquariums, guided fishing, and all other similar activities, which restricts.
Activities allowed: All public libraries, public library systems, institutional and governmental libraries, and libraries at institutions of higher education.
Limitations: All library activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which limits services to mail or curbside pick-up and libraries remain otherwise closed to the public.
|Long-term care facilities||
Long-term care facilities in King County that have not had a case in the past 28 days and who adhere to guidance regarding testing and PPE will progress to Phase 2 of the new Safe Start Plan for Long Term Care Facilities, effective 8/12.
Activities allowed: Indoor visits for compassionate care situations, outdoor visits, window visits, and remote visitation. Some group activities.
Limitations: All visits and activities must follow strict safety protocols, including masking, social distancing, and appropriate hygiene.
Limitations: All manufacturing activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance.
Limitations: Museums may operate as long as they meet certain requirements and limit capacity to 25 percent.
Activities allowed: Staffed outdoor tennis facilities; guided ATV, paddle sports, and horseback riding; go-cart tracks, ORV/motocross facilities, and participant only motorsports;
Limitations: All outdoor recreation activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance and are generally limited to groups of five participants or less, in some instances up to 12 individuals or three households are permitted.
Activities allowed: All personal services including Cosmetologists, Hairstylists, Barbers, Estheticians, Master Estheticians, Manicurists, Nail Salon Workers, Electrologists, Permanent Makeup Artists, Tattoo Artists, Cosmetology Schools and Esthetics Schools.
Limitations: All personal services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts customer occupancy to 50% with the exception of one to one services in an enclosed room.
Activities allowed: All pet grooming services including any location provided by an individual, or at a retail, veterinary, or other facility.
Limitations: All pet grooming services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts client occupancy to 50%.
Limitations: All professional photography services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts services to appointment only and for one client (and family member, if client is a minor) at any given time. Group sessions are not allowed unless the group consists of immediate family only.
Activities allowed: Accountants, architects, attorneys, engineers, financial advisors, information technologists, insurance agents, tax preparers, and other office-based occupations that are typically serving a client base.
Limitations: All professional services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts guest occupancy to 50% of a building's occupancy with the exception of one to one service in a fully enclosed room.
|Real estate (residential and commercial)||
Activities allowed: All real estate brokers, firms, independent contractors and industry partners.
Limitations: All real estate activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which generally restricts out of office activities to appointment only and with no more than three people; office activities require reservations for in-person customer services and guest occupancy is limited to 50% of a building's occupancy.
|Religious and faith organizations||
Activities allowed: All religious and faith-based organizations may operate services including worship services; religious study classes; religious ceremonies; religious holiday celebrations, weddings, and funerals. Remote or outdoor services are recommended in Phase 2.
Limitations: All religious and faith based activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which generally restricts indoor services to the lesser of 25% capacity or 200 individuals as long as 6 feet of distance is kept between people from different households. In-home services/counseling is restricted to no more than five individuals. Limitations on capacity does not include an organization's staff, but does include volunteers.
Limitations: Veterinary staff should follow public health guidance for essential workers, including staying home when sick and implementing flexible sick leave policies. Additional precautions should be implemented to protect staff and visitors in the workplace, including wearing a cloth face covering. Veterinary facilities should postpone elective procedures, surgeries, and non-urgent veterinary visits and should make a plan to support sick and injured pets through measures such as telemedicine, curbside services, and online payment/billing.
|Restaurants and taverns||
New Limitations, in effect 7/30: Alcohol service ends at 10 p.m. until phase 4. Indoor dining limited to members of the same household. People meeting from different households can still dine outdoors. Bars are closed for indoor service. Vending and game areas, such as video games, pool, darts, etc. closed until Phase 4.
|Social and recreational gatherings||Limitations: Individuals may gather with five or fewer people from outside their household per week.|
Activities allowed: Golf; professional sporting activities indoor and outdoor; outdoor youth team sports and outdoor adult recreational team sports, excluding school-connected or administered team sports and junior hockey.
Limitations: All sporting activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance (golf and other sporting activities). Non-professional sporting activities are generally limited to groups of five participants or less; for team sports that can mean limiting to groups of five in separate parts of the field if separated by a buffer zone. Professional sporting activities may generally operate, including up to 50 people for back office operations, for full team practices and spectator-less games and competitions.
Limitations: Housing managers, staff and residents can practice and encourage social distancing, wear face coverings, manage and limit use of common areas, frequently clean high-touch areas, limit visitors, and more to protect themselves and their residential community.
New Limitations, in effect 9/16: Receptions and ceremonies must be capped at 30 people, or 25% of venue occupancy, whichever is less. All tables at the reception must be seated by household, with table sizes capped at 5 people. Facial coverings are required, and social distancing must be maintained.
Social Gatherings vs. Business Activities
Social gatherings must not exceed 5 persons in Phase 2. A gathering refers to a social setting in which non-household members convene, indoors or outside. Social gatherings are a leading vector of COVID-19; sustained close contact with non-household members is known to be a source of spread.
Of note, whether indoors or outdoors, group counseling sessions must follow the social gatherings limitations for Phase 2. Counselors and facilitators are not counted. Neighborhood and association meetings, such as HOA/COAs, must also not exceed 5 persons, whether indoors or outdoors.
Business activity is treated differently than social gatherings By contrast, business activity generally refers to commercial activity or organized events. Business activity is limited by a percentage of capacity or a standard for social distancing on the business property.
The Phase 2 guidance for professional services limits capacity to 50 percent of a business' space. However, if the business is using an external location like an event venue, it must follow the gathering limitations of the county in which the occurrence will take place. In King County the limit is 5 people.
Weddings and funerals, religious organizations and restaurants have specific Safe Start regulations that take precedence over gathering limits.
Re-opening Toolkit: Safe Start materials to print for your business
The following toolkit includes all the materials you need to print for reference and to display, to help reopen and operate your business safely.
Safe Work Plan
Posters for Customers
Posters for Employees
Re-opening Requirements for All Businesses
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has posted complete Phase 1 and 2 Workplace Safety and Health Requirements and a helpful summary of guidance. You can also find more information for specific sectors on Gov. Jay Inslee's website.
Post COVID-19 policies in a language your employees can understand. Inform them about the symptoms and risk factors associated with the virus; the importance of frequent and thorough handwashing and social distancing; and the need to stay home when sick. King County has educational materials in many languages to help employers fulfill this requirement.
This poster explains basic information for employees:
Maintain at least six feet of separation between employees and customers at all times, including between tables at restaurants, customers waiting in line, and people using elevators. Businesses may need to print posters encouraging this behavior, such as only allowing 1-2 people per elevator depending on the size of the cab, or place tape or markers on the floor six feet apart.
When strict physical distancing is not feasible for a specific task, other measures are required, such as installing barriers, reducing staff or staggering worker hours.
Provide cloth face coverings and require employees to wear them unless they are working alone or have a condition that makes wearing a mask dangerous. Workers can wear their own face coverings, provided they meet minimum requirements.
Some jobs require higher levels of personal protective equipment because they have a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. You can find information about additional face coverings in Labor and Industries’ Which Mask for Which Task.
Provide cloth masks and require employees to wear them unless they are working alone or have a condition that makes wearing a mask dangerous.
More information about face coverings and King County's Face Covering Directive: kingcounty.gov/masks
Require frequent handwashing and provide the necessary supplies. Supplies may include additional sinks or stations where employees can wash their hands. If regular handwashing with soap and water is not possible employers must supply hand sanitizer.
Download handwashing posters in multiple languages: www.kingcounty.gov/stopgerms
Provide disposable gloves where appropriate to prevent virus transmission on shared tools and other equipment.
Regularly clean and sanitize your workplace, especially frequently touched surfaces. Each workplace should establish a cleaning schedule and ensure that high-touch areas are routinely sanitized.
Check to see if employees have any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 at the start of their shift. Use this COVID-19 Screening Tool and keep a log that the screening process was followed for all employees.
If they do, send them home and advise them to seek testing.
Exposed employees with a known exposure time (no longer than a day) should be tested no sooner than 48 hours from their exposure date.
Due to limited lab capacity for processing tests, only people with symptoms or who are close contacts of confirmed cases should get tested.
Unless they work in health care or long-term care facilities, employers should not require workers to submit a negative COVID-19 test result or a positive antibody test before starting a job or returning to work after recovering from the virus.
Workers can return when at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared, and at least 24 hours have passed since their fever resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications, and their other symptoms have improved.
Post a sign near your business entrance strongly encouraging customers to wear cloth masks.
Consider making this a requirement for all customers.
Some people are exempt from mask requirements for health and safety reasons. Reference this toolkit and educate employees to understand mask exemptions.
It is against the law for any employer to fire or retaliate against a worker for reporting concerns about health and safety. In addition, Governor Inslee has ordered that employees in high-risk groups for COVID-19 must be granted leave if they can't report to work for health reasons. Read the guidance memo for Proclamation 20-46.1 about "High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights" here.
Effective July 7, the Governor's Safe Start Proclamation requires employers in King County (in non-healthcare settings) to notify Public Health – Seattle & King County *within 24 hours* if they suspect COVID is spreading in their workplace or if there are two or more confirmed or suspected cases among their employees in a 14 day period.
- Face covering exemption toolkit
- Business Signage Toolkit (Safe Start WA)
- Business Tool Kit for Reopening (Association of Washington Businesses)
- Toolkits from the City of Seattle
- Domestic Services
- Fitness and Training
- In-Store Retail
- Personal Services
- Professional Services
- Restaurants and Taverns
- COVID-19 Handbook for Creative Sector
Restaurants and Taverns
Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR)
King County has launched a new Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) program to provide education and materials to help restaurants implement state and public health guidance. It also increases the accountability of restaurants to abide by the health and safety standards that support a safe reopening. Read more about SSTAR in this blog.
This webinar covers the purpose of the program, what you need to do to stay in compliance, an outline of what happens if there is a COVID-19 positive case in your business, and information from the Washington Hospitality Association.
- Phase 2 requirements for restaurants and taverns, updated 7/31
- Phase 2 guidelines for King County food establishments
- Phase 2 FAQs for Restaurants
- What to do when food workers are diagnosed with COVID-19
Resources for Employers
- Guidance for Businesses and Employers - (CDC)
- Safe Start Plans and Guidance for Reopening – (State of Washington)
- Information and resources, including webinars about all aspects of running a business in Washington during this time.
- Helpful summary of weekly updates via email, subscribe here.
- Return to Work Guide for Employers (Business Health Trust)
- Technical assistance for businesses (Business Impact Northwests)
- List of resources for small businesses (Ventures)
Resources for EmployeesDownload free employment & job seeker resources in King County
Find Face Coverings and Masks
Chambers and business organizations throughout King County have joined together to get face coverings, disposable masks, and hand sanitizer to businesses in King County. Businesses can go to www.safestartkingcounty.com for more information.
Check with your city to learn whether there are currently funding opportunities available in addition to the opportunities below.
- Small Business Assistance Program for Unincorporated King County
- Small Business Funding Opportunities - Statewide and King County
- Community organizations that can help
- Check to see if any programs from the Small Business Administration (SBA) are right for your business
For non-medical questions about COVID-19, including compliance and business related issues, contact King County COVID-19 Business and Community Information Line at 206-296-1608, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
If you are a food business owner or a food worker and have questions related to your operation, please reach out to your Health Investigator or call 206-263-9566 to speak with office staff.