Brown calls Inslee reopening decision ‘heartbreaking’ for Tri-Cities

Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, released the following statement after Gov. Jay Inslee announced today that Benton County will remain stuck in the most restrictive phase of his reopening plan for at least two more weeks. The region designated as South Central, which comprises Kittitas, Yakima, Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla and Columbia counties, will be the only region not allowed to move to Phase 2 of the plan on Monday.

“This is heartbreaking news for the Tri-Cities. Moving to Phase 2 would have given our small-business owners and their workers a glimmer of hope in the midst of this pandemic shutdown.

“If the governor means what he says about wanting to open up the rest of the state, he should immediately make more vaccines and additional resources available to our region.

“I will urge him to do just that, as I continue to push for the Legislature to act on Senate Bill 5114, which would immediately and safely move the entire state to Phase 2.

“Families are suffering. Across the Tri-Cities, and across this state, there are family-owned restaurants that have either shut their doors permanently or may soon have to close. There are gym owners and employees who are struggling with how to keep their businesses afloat or provide food for their children after months of being closed down by the governor’s proclamations.

“We must safely reopen all of Washington now.”

Senate Bill 5114, which Brown is co-sponsoring, would move the entire state to Phase 2 of the governor’s latest lockdown plan. Under Phase 2, restaurants may partially reopen indoor dining under social-distancing protocols. Gyms and entertainment venues also could reopen, and other rules regarding public gatherings would be relaxed.

The legislation was introduced by Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, and Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah.