Members of Federal Way’s Business Task Force meet virtually on June 3. Courtesy photo

Members of Federal Way’s Business Task Force meet virtually on June 3. Courtesy photo

Federal Way businesses given more opportunities to serve customers

Federal Way City Council approves use of parking lot spaces outside of businesses to be used as socially distanced service areas.

Businesses in Federal Way can now use parking spaces outside of their store to serve customers in a socially-distanced manner, the Federal Way City Council decided June 2.

The following day, the Business Resiliency Task Force, led by the City of Federal Way, met virtually for the second time and was informed of the continued work being pursued by the city amid the current health crisis.

In concert with the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, the Business Resiliency Task Force comprises both big and small businesses and commercial property owners from different sectors representing various ethnic and gender categories to identify opportunities and solutions for the recovery and future resiliency of businesses.

More than 40 people participated remotely as part of the task force in a Zoom meeting led by Mayor Jim Ferrell on June 3.

Task force members were briefed on actions the city took at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, which included the passage of an emergency resolution temporarily allowing restaurants to use adjacent parking spaces for outdoor serving areas.

Through Jan. 1, 2021, restaurants may use parking spaces immediately and directly adjacent to their place of business to expand serving areas for patrons seated at safe social distances during COVID-19 restrictions, the city wrote in a June 3 news release.

This use of parking spaces does not allow expansion into internal traffic circulation areas or impede the safe passage of vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

“I want to thank the council for approving a variety of measures over the last few months to help our businesses,” Ferrell said.

In April, the council also approved a resolution to temporarily allow “A-board” advertising signs in front of businesses to inform the public that the business is open and its hours of operation.

The mayor and city staff are also working on a plan to distribute about $2 million in federal CARES Act funds to local businesses, the release stated.

“This would be an immediate infusion of funding to our businesses, and we’re going to discuss the process to distribute those funds at our next city council meeting,” Ferrell said.

On Tuesday evening, the mayor and council also approved a letter to be sent to Gov. Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine asking for their consideration of a proposal allowing cities and “sub-areas” to proceed in an accelerated fashion into Phases 2, 3 and 4 as part of the governor’s “Safe Start Washington” plan.

“If adopted, this ‘sub-area’ and city approach plan that would allow more affected citizens and businesses in cities like Federal Way begin the task of safely rebuilding their lives and livelihood if they meet the criteria,” Ferrell said.

This proposal from the mayor and council coincides with the June 3 application from King County to the State Department of Health which would allow limited and modified openings of various businesses and personal activities.

If permitted, hair stylists and other personal and professional services would be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity, and restaurants would be able to begin opening indoor seating at 25 percent of normal capacity. Other non-essential retail activities could operate limited occupancy (no higher than 15 percent) and indoor services reduced to 30 minutes at a time.

A decision from the state whether it will accept the modified plan developed in consultation with Public Health experts, community leaders, businesses and the King County Council is expected within the next several days.

Federal Way’s Business Resiliency Task Force is set to meet again later this month.

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