New COVID restrictions for businesses, gatherings

Nov 17th, 2020 | By | Category: News

A four-week statewide set of restrictions on business and personal gatherings in response to the recent rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus in Washington and nationally is taking effect this week and is scheduled to continue until mid-December.

The new restrictions, affecting indoor gatherings, fitness centers, restaurants and other retailers, were announced by Governor Jay Inslee amid consistent increases of daily case counts, which reached more than 2,000 a day Nov. 14-15 and doubled over the previous two weeks.

“This spike puts us in a more dangerous position as we were in March” when cases were also climbing, Inslee said. “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 started Nov. 16 and will remain in effect until Dec. 14, Inslee said. The modified restrictions on restaurants, however, were delayed until Nov. 18.

Here is what’s been ordered:

Gatherings.

Indoor gatherings have been one of the biggest driving factors of COVID-19 spikes in Washington and nationwide. Because of this, indoor gatherings with people outside the household will be prohibited unless they quarantine for 14 days leading up to the social gathering or for the seven days prior to the event, and receive a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 48-hours before 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 service and restricted outdoor dining still allowed.

In-store retail, grocery stores and personal services are limited to 25 percent of occupancy and must close any congregate areas.

Religious services, weddings and funerals.

Religious services are limited to 25 percent indoor capacity or 200 people, whichever is less, and choirs and bands are prohibited from performing. Wedding and funeral ceremonies can have 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.

“We understand that this is both an economic and a public health crisis,” Inslee said, referring to the impacts of restrictions on people working in affected industries. “There is light at the end of this tunnel. We will continue to fight, adapt and persevere. It may be months before we’re totally out of the clear, but medical advances are putting us closer to the goal of restoring all activities eventually. For now, we have to keep everyone’s interests in mind and take steps that protect all Washingtonians.”

Schools, child care facilities, and courts are exempt from the new restrictions. They will continue to follow current rules that apply to them.

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