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Preparing for Business in Phase 2 | Whatcom County COVID-19 Resources

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

Whatcom County was approved to move to Phase 2 of Governor Inslee’s “Start Safe” plan on Friday, June 5th. This means that more businesses can open, but under modified guidelines. Check out what’s new.

Requirements for All Employers

In order to reopen your business under the Safe Start plan, all businesses are required to implement the following:

  1. All employees must wear a cloth facial covering

  2. Keep a safe and healthy facility in accordance with state (L&I, DOH) and federal (CDC) law

  3. Educate workers on COVID-19 symptoms and prevention

  4. Maintain a minimum six-foot separation between all employees and customers

  5. Provide and require wearing of PPE

  6. Ensure frequent and adequate handwashing

  7. Screen employees for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 at the start of their shift

  8. Post a sign at the entrance strongly encouraging customers to wear cloth facial coverings

Industry Requirements

In addition to the above requirements, there are also requirements for specific industries, which you can find here: COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Business and Workers. Businesses that can reopen in Phase 2 include:

Required cloth facial covering

Beginning June 8, all employees are required to wear a cloth facial covering and employers must provide employees with masks. Businesses must also post signage strongly encouraging customers and clients to wear cloth facial coverings in the workplace.

Whatcom Unified Command, in partnership with the local Chambers of Commerce and Downtown Bellingham Partnership, is distributing more than 100,000 single-use face masks to businesses. For more information and where to find them, visit

Green Cone Program

The City of Bellingham is providing green cones for businesses downtown and in Fairhaven to clearly indicate which businesses are open and ready for business. Cones will be placed on the curbside during operating hours. If you’re interested in participating, contact:

For Downtown Bellingham:

Jennifer Walters, Retail Advocate

Downtown Bellingham Partnership

For Fairhaven:

Scott Ward, Executive Director

Historic Fairhaven Association

Paycheck Protection Program: The Flexibility Act

While not part of Washington state’s “Start Safe” plan, the terms for the PPP loan have been adjusted with the enactment of the Flexibility Act. Here are some major changes:

  • 60% of the loan must be used for payroll costs, compared to the previous 75%. The remaining amount can be used for rent and utilities.

  • The time allotted to use the PPP funds has been extended to 24 weeks, compared to the original 8 weeks.

  • Businesses now have until December 31, 2020 to rehire employees, instead of the previous June 30, 2020 deadline.

  • Businesses should contact their lender for forgiveness application guidance.

June 30, 2020 is the last day to apply for the PPP loan if you're interested but haven’t applied yet. To apply and find a lender, visit the SBA website.

For up to date COVID-19 resources for businesses in Whatcom County, check out our COVID-19 resource page.


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