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OLYMPIA, WA — Washington has reached the first step in the state's plan to begin reopening the economy, allowing for existing construction projects to resume with added precautions, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday.
Most commercial and residential construction projects were halted under the governor's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order in March.
The updated rules, devised by a task force including labor leaders and construction groups, limits job site operations to "low-risk" work that can be completed with physical distancing at all times and requires workers to wear protective equipment.
Employers are tasked with providing items like gloves, goggles, face masks and face shields. Enhanced sanitation requirements include making disinfectants widely available, cleaning shared tools frequently and regularly disinfecting workspaces.
For job sites with more than seven people, contractors must appoint a supervisor to monitor employee health and enforce the job site safety plan. Supervisors must also provide COVID-19 safety training on the first day of returning to work.
Inslee said construction projects that can meet the requirements outlined could conceivably resume as early as Friday. According to the governor, the plan is likely to serve as a template for reopening other business sectors, when it is safe to do so.
Projections from the Institute of Disease Modeling show that it is still too early to consider widely lifting restrictions, the governor said, due to the risk of virus activity making a swift rebound.
"If we push that green button too soon, a lot of people are going to die," Inslee said.
Earlier in the week, Inslee identified two other areas where restrictions may soon be relaxed: elective surgeries and outdoor recreation. The governor said Friday that both plans were still in the works, but he expected to have news to share in a few days.