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Stand-up comedy returns to Spokane in Phase 2 while some venues choose to remain closed

Phase 2 loosens restrictions for a handful of Spokane businesses and allows indoor entertainment venues to operate at 25% capacity.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Stand-up comedy is returning to Spokane as all regions of Washington state enter into Phase 2 of reopening while the doors of another local entertainment venue remain closed amid continued restrictions. 

The East region, including Spokane County, moved into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee's "Healthy Washington" plan on Valentine's Day. Phase 2 loosens restrictions for a handful of businesses and allows indoor entertainment establishments, like the Spokane Comedy Club, to operate at a maximum of 25% capacity or 200 people —  whichever is less. 

The Spokane Comedy Club's live showroom closed in March 2020, when the first round of COVID-19 restrictions took effect in Washington state. 

"If you told me a year ago that 'you're never gonna have more than 80 people in there,' I would have started crying," Owner Adam Norwest said. "And now I'm like, '80 people, wow!'"

Norwest has been running three restaurants in hopes of keeping the business afloat during the pandemic closure. 

RELATED: Spokane Comedy Club running 3 restaurants to stay open during live entertainment ban

On Valentine's Day, comedian Kelsey Cook was the first person to perform at the Spokane Comedy Club since the shutdown. 

"It's so exciting," Cook said. "Most of us comics have not really got to perform in a comedy club like this live for a year."

The Valentine's Day set sold out within two hours of posting tickets online, according to Norwest.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel," Norwest said. "I don't know how long the tunnel is, but there's a light down there somewhere."

Steve Rannazzisi, who stars at Kevin McArthur in FX Network's comedy series "The League," has shows scheduled from Thursday, Feb. 18 through Sunday, Feb. 21 and tickets are still available. 

Other comedians scheduled to perform at the comedy club in 2021 include Pablo Francisco, Sarah Colonna, Drew Lynch and Whitney Cummings. A full list of events is available on the Spokane Comedy Club's website

While some businesses and entertainment venues see Phase 2 as a path forward, Lucky You Lounge in Spokane said in a Facebook post it will remain closed for the time being. In its post, Lucky You Lounge called the current guidelines for entertainment venues "very restrictive."

"Like every shift over the last year we like to take some time to asses [sic] what will be the best for the business, best for bringing our staff back and of course best for public health. To be honest, balancing all these concerns is taxing and each time we re-approach what to do next we find ourselves a bit exhausted. So, taking the time to make a plan we feel good about is important," the post reads in part.

Phase 2 also allows aquariums, theaters, concert halls, museums, bowling alleys and trampoline parks in Washington state to open at 25% capacity. Indoor dining is also allowed at 25% capacity, along with the operation of fitness centers.

Regions could be moved back to Phase 1 if COVID-19 health metrics start going in the wrong direction. Under state guidelines, regions must still meet three out of the four following requirements in two weeks:

  • 10% decreasing trend in case rates
  • 10% decrease in coronavirus hospital admission rates
  • ICU occupancy that’s less than 90%
  • Test positivity rate that’s less than 10%

The next reassessment and phase announcement will come on Feb. 25. If a region meets two or fewer metrics after two weeks, it would return to Phase 1 the following Monday.