“Effective immediately, all Washingtonians must stay home unless they are pursuing an essential activity,” the announcement of the new restrictions reads.
“The less time you stay out in public, the more lives we can save,” Inslee said.
Effective for a minimum of two weeks, the rules will restrict activities to only essential needs including visiting health facilities, grocery shopping, and working in “essential businesses” and industries. “The media will continue to operate, as well,” Inslee said.
“This order is enforceable by law, but the legal penalties are not what should convince people to follow these orders,” a statement on the restrictions read. “The real penalty may be the loss of a loved one to COVID-19. There are 110 Washington families who can tell you what the pain of that loss feels like.”
Restaurants and bars will also be able to offer to go and delivery orders.
Larger impacts will be felt as commercial construction work that does not involve safety or critical repairs like the work underway to build new retail and housing around Capitol Hill Station could come to an abrupt halt.
The full announcement is below.
CHS COVID-19 TIMELINE: + Feb. 29 First ‘presumptive positive’ COVID-19 case in King County + Mar. 11 Washington put ‘over 250’ restrictions in place + Mar. 11 Schools closed + Mar. 15 Restaurants and bars closed, ‘over 50’ threshold + Mar. 21 Police begin clearing parks
Washington has steadily ratcheted up its restrictions on businesses, gatherings, and social activities while trying to soften the economic blow from the changes. More than 14,000 unemployment insurance claims were filed in the state in the week ending March 19th. Officials say that is only the start of what is expected to be a massive flood of claims. Meanwhile, countless more have also been laid off due to the COVID-19 response.
Inslee’s move comes as deaths at the King County core of the epidemic reached 75 in reports through Sunday midnight. Of the dozen deaths reported Sunday, each person was 60 or older including two in their 60s who died at Swedish Cherry Hill, according to King County Public Health.
“Young and old, sick or well, we all need to work together now to slow the spread of COVID-19 in King County and decrease the number of illnesses, hospitalizations and strain on our healthcare system,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health said. “With no treatment or vaccine, the single most important thing all of us must do is to stay home and avoid all non-essential contact with others.”
To protect Washingtonians from COVID-19, I am issuing a ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order.
Here is what it means for you and your family. ⬇️
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) March 24, 2020
Researchers are still working to understand elements of the infection including the time between the start of symptoms and succumbing to the virus that can be anywhere from weeks to a month. Deaths recorded this weekend could stem from infections from the period before Washington first began implementing social distancing restrictions. Inslee’s announced the first restrictions on groups over 250 people on March 11th.
Monday, meanwhile, the first home test for COVID-19 began to be distributed as part of the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network research effort.
Washington’s list of essential industries and businesses has been posted here — and, yes, it includes “cannabis retailers” —
The new restrictions will be especially impactful for any retailers that have remained open. Stores and shops selling items like clothing, music, or comic books must now shutter. Businesses can can continue for phone and internet orders but window shopping is done for at least the next two weeks. Businesses can also petition the state to be added to the list.
Washington will now join states across the country in various levels of “shelter in place” and “stay home” restrictions. California began its restriction March 19th:
Essential state and local government functions are open, as are gas stations, health care facilities, pharmacies, banks, laundromats, and stores that sell food, such as grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, and convenience stores. Bars, taverns, and restaurants are closed, though establishments that serve food are permitted to provide takeout and delivery services so long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.
So called “essential industries” like chemical manufactures, communications providers, public transit, health and water systems, and more have also been allowed to continue operating and requiring employees to work.
Monday, Oregon and Gov. Kate Brown also joined Washington in further locking down its population, ordering citizens “to stay home ‘to the maximum extent possible,’ except for when carrying out essential tasks like getting groceries, refueling their vehicles, or obtaining health care.”
“Restaurants and bars, which were largely closed by an earlier order from Brown, are still allowed to sell take-out orders. Businesses allowed to remain open must designate an employee to create and enforce social distancing policies.”
Oregon is threatening violations of the order with possible prosecution as a class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,250 fine, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.
Officials in King County say the governor has not asked law enforcement to “actively enforce” the new restrictions.
“The Governor is not asking law enforcement, including the King County Sheriff’s Office, to actively enforce the stay at home order and we see no need to do so,” a statement from the office of King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht reads. “Instead, if our deputies see banned gatherings, we will take an educational approach and remind people of the current restrictions issued by the Governor.”
“It is our hope that people will simply self-regulate their behavior and stay at home to preserve public health and safety,” the sheriff department statement says.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan did not address enforcement in her statement on the new restrictions. “Our city, region and state have taken significant and early actions over the last 24 days, but we know we need to take even more actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in a significant way, protect our health care system and keep more individuals healthy,” she said. “Every resident needs to do their part: stay home and limit their interactions.”
Also unclear is how Seattle’s police force will deal with enforcement related to the city’s massive population of homeless and under sheltered people.
Durkan highlighted the city and state’s attempts to help mitigate the financial impact of the restrictions.including deferring payments on businesses taxes and utilities, a moratorium on both residential and commercial evictions, and assisting local businesses seeking part of the some $7 billion in federal loans being lined up to help the economic recovery.
Officials in even the most locked-down areas, meanwhile, are not telling people to never go outside.
In California where citizens are in “shelter in place mode,” officials are allowing people “to engage in outdoor activity and recreation, provided that the individuals comply with social distancing requirements, including, without limitation, walking, hiking, running, cycling; use of scooters, roller skates, skateboards, or other personal mobility devices; or travel in a vehicle with household members to a location where it is possible to walk, hike, run or ride a bike, or operate personal mobility devices, while maintaining social distancing practices.” In New York, they are telling people to get some air. “”It’s very important for people to get outside,” a NYC parks official said. “Parks are so beneficial because it can help reduce that stress.” And in Oregon, activities like walking, jogging, hiking, and biking are permitted as long as social distancing can be maintained.
“It is still safe to go outside,” Inslee said, But he warned that the outbreak still “threatens to overwhelm” our healthcare system and could reach “a scale we cannot yet project.”
Video of the governor’s address and the full text of the announcement are below:
Tonight, Gov. Jay Inslee spoke directly to Washingtonians to announce he will sign a statewide order that requires everyone in the state to stay home. The order will last for two weeks and could be extended.
This Stay Home, Stay Healthy order is similar to orders that other governors, in places such as California and New York, issued last week.
This proclamation will:
- Require every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity.
- Ban all gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes.
- Close all businesses except essential businesses.
“The less time we spend in public, the more lives we will save,” Inslee said.
The proclamation states it’s still safe for people to go outside as long as they remain at least six feet from each other. Grocery stores, doctor’s offices and other essential businesses will remain open. People can still participate in activities such as bike rides, gardening, and dog walking — as long as they follow social distancing rules.
This order builds on the early and unprecedented steps the state took in the past few weeks to protect Washingtonians. These included closing schools and restaurants, entertainment venues and other businesses where people congregate.
“We’ve been very clear on the need for everyone to stay home,” Inslee said. “And, while most Washingtonians are doing their part, some still don’t grasp the seriousness of this pandemic.”
Bans on gatherings and going out take effect immediately.
This order applies to private and public gatherings. These include some of the most deeply meaningful gatherings in communities, such as weddings and funerals.
Along with other public places, non-essential businesses with in-office personnel functions must be closed.
Inslee said it’s crucial to reduce social interactions where this highly contagious virus can spread.
Business closures must happen 48 hours after Inslee signs the order.
Many businesses can, and should, continue using telework.
All grocery stores, pharmacies, childcare facilities, gas stations, food supply chains and other things that offer people basic, crucial needs will remain open. Inslee expects businesses and residents to voluntarily comply. He will discuss possible enforcement mechanisms in the coming days if residents and businesses do not comply.
Industries that can argue they are essential can request a special designation as an essential business. Businesses and entities that provide essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet.
“We know life will look different tomorrow in Washington,” Inslee said. “And we know tonight’s announcement affects millions of our livelihoods. But these necessary restrictions will protect us and our loved ones so that we have a livelihood to come back to. We will keep working until this is defeated.”
We want to remind people that the food supply operations — including hunger relief and nutritional support services — are essential services that will remain open and operational through this crisis; this order does not ban people getting access to food.
- Food banks and food pantries are essential services that will remain in operation through this restriction.
- You can still go to a food pantry to pick up groceries but check the hours before you go. Hours of operation may vary and many hunger relief organizations are moving to new ways to distribute food, such as home delivery and drop-off sites.
- Food bank volunteers may continue to go to work at food pantries.
- 4/4/20: Mask up — Why you might want to consider a face covering for your next outing on Capitol Hill
- 4/3/20: It’s not a free for all but Seattle eliminating most parking tickets during COVID-19 restrictions
- 4/2/20: Washington extends COVID-19 restrictions another month
- Plus: Capitol Hill Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes offering takeout during COVID-19 ‘stay home’ restrictions
HELP CHS COVER THE COVID-19 CRISIS -- SUBSCRIBE TODAY: Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment. HELP TELL THE LOCAL STORY -- More here.