Gov. Jay Inslee today announced a four-week statewide set of restrictions in response to the recent rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus in Washington and across the country.
The new restrictions come as Washington sees consistent increasing daily case counts, with over 2,000 cases a day over the weekend and average cases in the state doubling over the past two weeks.
“This spike puts us in a more dangerous a position as we were in March,” Inslee said during a press conference Sunday. “And it means, unfortunately, the time has come to reinstate restrictions on activities statewide to preserve the public’s well-being, and to save lives. These were very difficult decisions that have very real consequences to people’s livelihoods. I recognize that and don’t take those impacts lightly, but we must act now and act quickly to slow the spread of this disease.”
The restrictions are statewide and will take effect Monday, November 16 at 11:59 PM and will remain in effect until Monday, December 14. The modified restrictions of restaurants, however, will take effect Wednesday, November 18 at 12:01 AM.
To help mitigate financial impacts on businesses and their employees, the state will commit $50 million in aid. Businesses can also apply for Paycheck Protection Plan forgivable loans from the Small Business Administration, or from their local bank. If workers are kept in their jobs, the loans aren’t required to be paid back.
Indoor gatherings have been one of the biggest driving factors of COVID-19 spikes in Washington and nation-wide. Because of this, indoor gatherings with people outside the household will be prohibited unless they quarantine for the fourteen days (14) prior to the social gathering or quarantine for the seven (7) days prior to the gathering, and receive a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 48-hours prior to the gathering. Outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than five people.
For long-term care facilities, only outdoor visits will be allowed. Indoor visits may be permitted for essential support persons or end-of-life care.
Restaurants and retail
Restaurants and bars will be closed for indoor service, with to-go services and restricted outdoor dining allowed.
In-store retail, grocery stores and personal services are limited to 25% of occupancy and must close any congregate areas.
Religious services, weddings and funerals
Religious services will be limited to 25% indoor capacity or 200 people, whichever is less, and choirs, bands or ensembles are prohibited from performing. Wedding and funeral ceremonies can go on with limited attendance, but receptions of any size are prohibited indoors.
Entertainment and fitness
Indoor service will be closed at fitness facilities and gyms, and youth and adult amateur sporting activities are limited to outdoors only with facial coverings.
Bowling alleys, museums, zoos, aquariums, and movie theaters will be closed for indoor services.