Students react to new Covid-19 Guidelines as all Washington counties move to Phase 3

Jamie Wyatt, Staff Reporter

Recently, Jay Inslee released new COVID-19 Phase 3 guidelines and with summer coming and Wildcats ready for break, The Observer conducted a survey regarding new guidelines for student feedback.

With each new announcement of COVID-19 guidelines, a new storm of reactions, both good and bad, can be seen rushing the comments sections on social media and heard on the streets in local communities around the state. Such was the case on Thursday, May 13 during a press conference held by Gov. Jay Inslee. The guidelines are currently available to the  public through the state website here.

On the website, it is announced that all counties in Washington will move towards Phase 3 of Inslee’s “Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery” reopening plan that will be in effect from May 18 to June 30. 

One of the biggest changes within the recovery plan is in regards to wearing masks. Inslee has lifted the mask mandate for vaccinated people, though they are expected to comply if asked by businesses. This guideline is for most indoor and outdoor settings. 

When asked for their thoughts on the new COVID-19 guidelines, students had a variety of responses.

Cassana Collins, English Literature major, said, “I think it’s acceptable that mask requirements will be lifted if you’re fully vaccinated, but it does make it hard to determine whether or not people actually are fully vaccinated or not. I do think that as long as people are getting vaccinated that we’re getting on the right track.” 

All people surveyed by The Observer were aware of the mask guideline being lifted and 66% stated they would continue wearing a mask despite guidelines not requiring them anymore.

There are also some concerns regarding masks and the COVID-19 guidelines and how they are being handled. 

Maurissa Cowdrick, Japanese major, said, “Lifting the mask regulations too early. Yakima is nowhere near the regulations to be allowed to move forward. Every business in Kittitas isn’t enforcing, and neither are many in Ellensburg.” 

The guidelines for indoor and outdoor settings have also changed with the new Phase 3 recovery  plan. Indoor social gatherings taking place at your home are to have a maximum of 10 people outside of your household. Outdoor social gatherings are limited at a maximum of 50 people. 

Guideline specifics regarding types of businesses include services of worship being limited to 50% capacity, retail stores at 50% capacity and professional services are also limited to the indoor 50% capacity guideline. 

If you’re planning to go out to restaurants or any venues that include eating and drinking, they are most likely limited to 50% capacity and alcohol delivery gets cut off at midnight due to the guideline. Outdoor and open air dining are limited to a maximum of 10 people per outdoor eating area. 

It’s clear from survey responses that students still have some concerns, such as who actually listens to the guidelines.

One respondent, choosing to remain anonymous, a graduate student of the Professional and Creative Writing program, wrote, “I think that it would be better if it wasn’t just the honor system in place for vaccinated folks. However, as someone who is fully vaccinated and will continue to choose to be, I’m okay with easing restrictions around other vaccinated people. We live in an imperfect system, and many of us are doing our best to comply with safety regulations and confusing messaging.”

Indoor sports and fitness venues are limited to the 50% maximum capacity guidelines but are once again allowing showers, competitions and tournaments. Outdoor sports and fitness venues are allowed at all risk levels with a 400 people maximum capacity restriction on the facility. 

Another concern with the days heating up as summer moves closer is wedding season. Indoor wedding venues must follow appropriate guidelines for indoor gatherings above and if the food and drink are served, they must also meet the guidelines specific eating and drinking venues such as restaurants. 

Indoor and outdoor entertainment is also an upcoming trend with summer approaching. Indoor entertainment venues are limited to a 50% capacity or 400 people, whichever is less and must also follow food and drink guidelines mentioned above. Outdoor entertainment venues will allow walk-up tickets with some restrictions and the maximum number of spectators is 400 people with capacity restriction depending upon facility. 

A surprising 100% of people surveyed were aware of Inslee’s new Phase 3 guidelines. Only 11% were not aware that the new guidelines spanned all of the counties in Washington state. 

Another student voiced concerns regarding the vaccine and whether or not it should be mandatory. 

“I’m fine with being careful as we re-open. Not fine with mandatory shots for all citizens,” Bridget Manalo, Professional and Creative Writing graduate student, said. 

It’s clear that while some respite from the pandemic is beginning to occur with the new Phase 3 guidelines, there are still many concerns from student perspectives. To see the data for vaccinations in Washington state, that information is available here.