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King County Health Department Urges Caution As Dining Rooms Reopen

Plus, eligible Seattle grocery store workers receive COVID vaccine at pop-up site, and a local plant-based food company continues expansion

A sign hanging on a glass restaurant door that reads “open” in all caps
Starting February 1, dining rooms and bars that serve a full food menu can open for indoor service at 25 percent capacity.
Shutterstock

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King County Health Department Urges Caution As Dining Rooms Reopen

Though Seattle is eligible to reopen dining rooms at 25 percent on Monday, February 1, as part of newly relaxed rules in Washington’s reopening plan, local officials are urging businesses to proceed with care. An email alert addressed to the city’s food establishments from Public Health - Seattle & King County encouraged restaurants to “maximize introduction of fresh air by opening doors and windows whenever possible, and improve mechanical ventilation and air flow.” The department also suggested that chefs and owners encourage the use of outdoor dining, in addition to takeout and curbside offerings, over indoor dining options. This comes a few days after news arrived about the presence of a highly contagious new COVID-19 variant in King County, which can quickly lead to a rapid rise in cases and deaths. In a press conference Friday, King County health officer Dr. Jeffrey Duchin stopped short of saying reopening at this point was “reckless,” but he also warned, “We’re skating forward into Phase 2 on a lake not knowing how thick the ice is.”

Seattle Grocery Store Workers Received Vaccinations at Pop-up Site

There was some encouraging news on the COVID front over the weekend. On Sunday, January 31, the city of Seattle organized a pop-up vaccination site for grocery store workers in partnership with local union UFCW 21. A total of 405 people received the shot as part of Washington’s phase 1B, tier 1 grouping: prioritizing those 65 years of age or older, or at least 50 years old and part of a multigenerational household. This was part of an effort launched with the Seattle Fire Department in mid-January to create a mobile vaccination team to reach vulnerable populations in the area, including adult family homes, affordable housing buildings, and two permanent supportive housing buildings. According to a rep for Mayor Jenny Durkan, the city has administered 100 percent of its vaccine allocation within one week of receiving it, and expects to receive another 1,000 doses from the state on Tuesday, February 2. Later this month, the grocery store workers will receive a second shot of the Moderna vaccine. One the highest priority tiers of older people are taken care of, all those who work in high-risk settings, such as grocery stores, will be eligible.

Seattle Plant-Based ‘Chicken’ Company Expands

After more than a year touting its vegan chicken nuggets, Rebellyous Foods — a Seattle-based company similar to Impossible Foods — has expanded its line to include plant-based patties and tenders, and they’ll appear in some well-known local restaurants, in addition to grocery stores in Washington and Oregon. Among the spots reportedly planning to feature the faux meat on their menu are Ma’ono, Cycle Dogs, Cafe Red, and Wayward Cafe. Originally, Rebellyous had launched its plant-based chicken products in 2019 to local corporate and hospital cafeterias in the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center. It has now seemed to have gained more traction, with claims that its products have about 40 percent less saturated fat and sodium than the real thing, but at a lower price point than the plant-based competition.

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