As Spokane County moves into Phase 2 of the Safe Start Washington plan and the doors of downtown businesses reopen, residents are excited for the opportunity patronize their favorite restaurant, stylist, or retailer. As a community, we need to be mindful of how we navigate our way back to normalcy. If we are not careful to respect the guidelines currently in place, one step forward could mean taking two back. This is our time to prove just how strong the Spokane community really is.

The Spokane Regional Health District has issued a directive urging Spokane County residents to wear cloth face coverings (masks) in certain public settings. This is a simple, yet important way to ensure the health and safety of everyone around you. Wearing a mask may seem inconvenient or unnecessary to some, but it is actually a prime and effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. An infected person, even if not showing symptoms, can transmit the virus through coughing, sneezing, or even simply breathing or speaking. Wearing a face covering goes a long way to prevent such incidental spreading of the virus.

Phase 2 means individual businesses will still have specific social distancing measures and health standards in place in order to operate. At the same time, we, the patrons, also share a responsibility to uphold those safety measures when supporting those establishments. If you feel at all sick, continue to stay home. Retailers may only allow 30% of their maximum capacity in their store at once, and restaurants are limited to 50% capacity with no bar seating. To prevent congestion at these locations, try calling ahead or making reservations with a business whenever possible.

The COVID-19 situation has been, and continues to be, a trying period in all of our lives. Understandably there is a great desire to return to normal as quickly and as safely as possible. Phase 2 is not the end of the road, but it is still a positive step forward and great opportunity to get our economy, and our own lives, back to their thriving ways. Following the safety guidelines, including mask-wearing, is an assured way to provide the best chance of safely returning back to normal.

Let’s stay in this together, Spokane, and we will all reach the other side soon enough.

For more information on proper face coverings, including instructions on how to make your own, visit the CDC’s page here.