In the ongoing struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington will remain in partial lockdown through Jan. 4, with continued bans on indoor dining and indoor social gatherings at least an additional three weeks beyond an initial four-week period.
Governor Jay Inslee, in announcing the extension Dec. 8, said the continuing severity of the pandemic’s health risks warrants extending the limits that began in mid-November.
Along with keeping indoor areas of restaurants and bars off-limits (outdoor dining is still allowed), the ongoing restrictions keep many businesses such as movie theaters and gyms closed. But retail and grocery stores can continue to be open at 25 percent customer capacity, as can personal-service businesses such as barber shops and nail salons.
Washington residents are still banned from gathering indoors with anyone outside of their immediate household. Small outdoor gatherings are okay, as long as social distancing and other requirements are met, Inslee said.
Professional and college sports teams arenâ€™t subject to the restrictions, but high school athletes remain unable to play against other teams.
Inslee also announced another $50 million more in financial support for affected businesses. Thatâ€™s in addition to $100 million in business relief he announced in November, which was accompanied by $35 million to help people pay their rent and utility bills.
The state Department of Health, citing rises in coronavirus cases, warned that people should refrain from gathering with members of other households throughout the December holidays. The agency urged people to limit their holiday celebrations to only members of their immediate households, despite the desire of many to be with friends and extended family in-person.
â€œNow is not the time to let our guard down,â€ said Lacy Fehrenbach, a deputy state secretary of health.
As of Dec. 7, there were 184,004 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington, according to the health department. The number of people hospitalized with the disease was at 11,695, and deaths totaled 2,941.