COVID-19 Updates and Resources from the RTA
The Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority (RTA) continues to monitor the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
As our elected leaders and public health officials aggressively work to contain infections, the RTA continues to work as an advisor to travelers and an advocate for regional businesses and the travel industry. We’ve heard from many of our partners in recent days and understand the challenges your business is facing, as well as your need to appropriately advise your customers and clients. For more information related to your business please see our Partner Coronavirus Resource page.
Inslee announces statewide move to Phase 3 of recovery plan, return to spectator events and Phase 1B, Tier 2 vaccine eligibility
The state’s reopening plan will return to a county-by-county approach
Updated Mar. 12, 2021
Gov. Jay Inslee today announced that Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery will be transitioning from a regional approach to a county-by-county evaluation process. The governor also announced a new third phase of the Roadmap and a return for in-person spectators for professional and high school sports.
Effective March 22, the entire state will enter Phase 3.
“Because of the progress we’ve made by decreasing our case rates and hospitalizations, as well as our tremendous efforts to get more people vaccinated, our reopening plan is once again based on counties, not regions,” Inslee said during a press conference Thursday. “We are excited to take this step and we will keep evaluating our progress, and the impacts of these changes, to determine how and when we reopen further.”
Additionally, the governor announced that starting Wednesday, March 17, everyone in Phase 1B, Tier 2 will be eligible for their COVID vaccine. This includes workers in agriculture, food processing, grocery stores, public transit, firefighters and law enforcement, among others. Phase 1B, Tier 2 also includes people over the age of 16 who are pregnant or have a disability that puts them at high-risk.
Under the updated plan, counties will be individually evaluated every three weeks. The evaluations will occur on Mondays with any possible changes taking effect Friday, with the first evaluation scheduled for April 12.
In addition to being individually evaluated, large and small counties will have different sets of criteria. If any county fails one or more of the metrics below, that county will move down one Phase in the Heathy Washington plan.
For large counties to remain in Phase 3, defined as counties with more than 50,000 residents, they must keep a 14-day average of new COVID cases at or below 200 per 100,000 residents, and a seven-day average of new hospitalizations per 100,000 at five or fewer.
Smaller counties, those with populations of 50,000 or less, must maintain a 14-day average of new cases at 30 or fewer, and a new seven-day hospitalization average at three or fewer.
If at any point the statewide ICU capacity reaches greater than 90%, all counties will move down one Phase. The Department of Health always maintains the ability to move a county forward or backward at their discretion.
“We know there is enthusiasm around opening of schools and businesses and that advancing to Phase 3 is welcome news to many Washingtonians,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, Deputy Secretary for the Department of Health’s COVID-19 response. “We want to keep going forward together out of the pandemic, and our success hinges upon wearing masks, washing our hands, watching our distance, keeping social circles small — and of course, getting vaccinated when it’s our turn. These are the things that will help us suppress COVID-19, which is the key to our continued forward progress towards recovery.”
Sports guidance will change in Phase 3 to allow in-person spectators at events for the first time in a year. Spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor venues with permanent seating with capacity capped at 25%. The change affects both professional and high school sports, as well as motorsports, rodeos, and other outdoor spectator events. Social distancing and facial covering are still required.
The new phase also allows for up to 400 people maximum to attend outdoor activities, as well as events in indoor facilities — so long as 400 people does not exceed 50% capacity for the location, and physical distancing and masking protocols are enforced. Larger venue events are capped at 25% occupancy, or up to 9,000 people, whichever is less, and must follow spectator guidelines.
Additionally, Phase 3 will allow up to 50% occupancy or 400 people maximum, whichever is lower, for all indoor spaces. This applies to all industries and indoor activities currently allowed; restaurants, gyms and fitness centers and movie theaters, among others, may all increase their capacity.
“Some of the hardest hit businesses in Washington will be able to return to 50% capacity as we continue on the road to recovery,” Inslee said. “On March 22, we make one more step to beating this virus and rejuvenating our economy.”
A full list of industry-level changes for the new phase will be released next week.
Read the full Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery plan here.
Mask/Face Covering Required
Effective June 26, a statewide order requires individuals to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces such as stores, offices and restaurants. The order also requires face coverings outdoors when you can't stay 6 feet apart from others. Learn more.
Information on face coverings is available in multiple languages at Public Health's face coverings website.
Industry Guidance for Promoting the Health and Safety of All Travelers
The U.S. Travel Association, the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.6 trillion in economic output and supports 15.8 million American jobs, was developed in close collaboration with health and medical professionals, and with organizations throughout the broader travel industry: hotels/resorts, airports, airlines, attractions, restaurants, rental cars, meeting venues, event producers, travel advisors and others. It also builds upon and aligns with the White House and CDC guidelines for "Opening Up America Again."
We will modify the guidance as the public health issue evolves and we will continue to work with medical and health professionals, government officials and travel leaders across the industry to prioritize the health and safety of travelers and travel employees.
Canada's Continued Suspension of Cruise
February 4, 2021 The Canadian government has continued the suspension of cruise vessels in their waters. This impacts our homeported cruises which would stop at a Canadian port, per the Passenger Vessel Services Act, on their Alaska itineraries.
There remains a possibility of a limited cruise season in Seattle this year, nonetheless, the health and safety of our community comes first, and we await further guidance from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). The Port of Seattle will continue working closely with federal and local officials and industry partners to implement the latest health and safety requirements to support a safe return of cruise. When it is safe to cruise Seattle will be ready.
COVID-19 travel protocols continue to evolve. These are some of the newest COVID-19 testing requirements to be aware of as you plan your trip.
New COVID-19 Protocols for International Travel
COVID-19 international travel protocols continue to evolve. These are some of the newest COVID-19 testing requirements to be aware of as you plan your trip. Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19.
- A negative COVID-19 test is required for all international passengers coming into the U.S. with written documentation of a laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) provided to the airline. This is combined with the CDC recommendation to get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and stay home for seven days post-travel. Effective as of Jan. 26, the CDC’s protocols are in place during international arrivals and passport control process at SEA as well as the implementation of facial recognition.
- A presidential proclamation expands travel restrictions for South Africa, Brazil, Britain and 27 European countries. Due to go into effect on Jan. 30, the proclamation applies to noncitizens attempting to come to the U.S. from any of those countries for 14-days prior to travel.
- All travelers headed to the Netherlands must show a negative rapid test within four hours of departure. This is in addition to the already mandatory negative PCR test, which must be taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. Pre-flight testing is available for those flying to Amsterdam from SEA through Discovery Health MD at the South Satellite SkyClub Lounge near Gate S10 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or four hours before departure to the Netherlands.
Guidance for Travelers
- Learn about other COVID-19 testing and travel requirements.
- Need a COVID-19 test to travel? Find local COVID-19 testing options at SEA Airport.
- Understand the use of facial recognition at SEA Airport.
- Read about international travel and FlyHealthy@SEA.
- The U.S. Department of State updates travel advisories
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a Warning Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel
- CDC Information for Travelers
- Canada announced that it would close its borders to most nonresidents. It exempted visitors from the U.S., though anyone who crosses the border from the U.S. will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
- Washington State Department of Health
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) traveler updates
Guidance for Meeting & Event Planners
The following resources address crisis management, force majeure clauses and other relevant industry concerns:
- Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) event planning guidelines
- MPI article on force majeure clauses
- International Association of Exhibitions and Events (EEMB) webinar on February 28
- Meeting Mentor Magazine – impact on your event
- Events Industry Council
Complete List of Re-opened Businesses in Seattle Southside
- We've published a list of all the hotels, restaurants, and attractions re-opening during Phase 2 in our region.
Hotels Offering Free Room Nights for Frontline Medical Staff
- Many Seattle hotels and hotels near Sea-Tac Airport are participating in Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy's one million room night giveaway for frontline medical staff.