Governor Jay Inslee announced announced on March 16 an emergency proclamation that mandates the immediate two-week closures of all restaurants, bars, and entertainment and recreational facilities, as well as additional limits on large gatherings. The new order will be in place through March 31.
The announcement followed the recent spike in numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state and across the country.
â€œIf we are living a normal life, we are not doing our jobs as Washingtonians,â€ Inslee said. â€œWe need to make changes, regardless of size. All of us need to do more. We must limit the number of people we come in contact with. This is the new normal.â€
Inslee said the two-week ban on any food or beverage service, regardless of location, that provides or allows on-site consumption wonâ€™t apply to grocery stores and pharmacies. But it does include restaurants, food courts, bars and taverns, wine, beer and spirits-tasting venues, doughnut shops and ice cream parlors, coffee shops, and sit-down airport restaurants and bars.
Not affected by the ban are take-out, delivery and drive-through food and beverage service. They can continue.
College and other higher-education campus dining halls are banned from providing on-site dining, but may provide take-out and delivery options. On-site food service and other related activities are permitted for childcare services and school-based food programs for K-12 schools.
Insleeâ€™s announcement also included other directives on social gatherings and closures of entertainment, leisure and non-essential establishments, and a ban on public gatherings of 50 or more people. Inslee also urged citizens not to â€œhoardâ€ supplies by buying them in overly large quantities.
- Social distancing in retail stores
Businesses that remain open are expected to ensure adequate environmental cleaning of stores and must designate an employee or officer to implement a social distancing plan for their business.
â€œThe supply chain is strong,â€ Inslee said. â€œGrocery stores will continue operating and providing services to Washingtonians. There is no need to hoard food or supplies. Everyone needs to only buy what they need, and they need to remember when they overbuy, those things are taken away from their neighbors and others who need them now.â€
- Statewide closure of entertainment, leisure and non-essential services.
The ban includes, but isnâ€™t limited to, theaters, bowling alleys, gyms and fitness centers, mon-tribal card rooms, museums, art galleries, tattoo parlors, and barbers, hair salons and nail salons.
- Statewide ban on gatherings of 50 or larger.
Last Friday, Inslee expanded a ban on events larger than 250 people beyond the Puget Sound region to the entire state. Today, he announced the ban will decrease in size to prohibit all events of 50 or larger statewide.
Additionally, all gatherings with less than 50 participants are prohibited unless criteria from the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for public health and social distancing are met.
â€œI am proud of how Washingtonians have stepped up and worked together,â€ Inslee said. â€œI know we still have long days ahead, but together we will prevail and be a stronger state as a result. We will get through this together and life will return to normal, but the steps we are taking now will help us get back to normal sooner. I ask everyone to take these steps to protect themselves, their families and their communities. Everyone needs to play their part. â€œ
In a related matter, Inslee joined fellow governors on a call March 16 with President Trump and Vice President Pence. Inslee asked the administration to change how personal protective equipment (PPE) is allocated. Currently, PPE is allocated to each state equally, but Inslee made the case that allocations should be based on the needs of states like Washington that have higher numbers of cornovirus cases and deaths.