New Covid-19 restrictions went into effect across Washington state on November 17, creating some of the tightest limitations for businesses since the pandemic began in March.
In efforts to prevent a third wave of infections, governor Jay Inslee announced restrictions on the following:
Indoor social gatherings – People are prohibited to meet indoors with non-household members unless they quarantine for 14 days before or quarantine for seven days and test negative no more than 48 hours before meeting.
Restaurants and bars – Indoor seating closed but to-go orders and outdoor dining is allowed for parties of five or fewer.
Retail and grocery stores – Occupancy limited to 25 percent with gathering areas closed such as food courts.
Religious services – Occupancy limited to 25 percent or a maximum of 200 people if that number is fewer. Solo musicians are allowed but no group musical performances.
Gyms – Indoor fitness centers are closed but outdoor classes and activities are allowed in groups of five or fewer.
Entertainment – Movie theatres, bowling alleys, museums, zoos and aquariums are closed indoors.
Real Estate – No open houses.
Professional services – Employees must work from home when possible and close offices to the public. Open offices need to be limited to 25 percent occupancy.
Salons and tattoo shops – Occupancy limited to 25 percent.
“We are today in a more dangerous position than we were in March when our first stay-at-home order was issued,” Inslee said during a November 15 press conference. “We’re in a more dangerous position due to accommodation of the extent of this virus, which is now throughout the state and the nation, and because of the situation we’re heading into in the winter months.”
The state experienced over 2,000 new cases per day over the November 14-15 weekend, with cases doubling from two weeks ago, according to the governor’s office. Forty percent of those who’ve tested positive for Covid-19 are ages 20-49, with 40-59-year-olds being the second largest group at 28 percent, according to November 15 state Department of Health data.
On November 13, the governor’s office issued a travel advisory for nonessential trips that asks people to follow a 14-day quarantine after arriving in Washington and for those in the state to stay home and avoid nonessential travel to other counties. Inslee also asked Washingtonians to avoid gathering with people from outside their household for Thanksgiving.
Though most restrictions went into effect November 17, restaurant restrictions went into effect one day later. Unless extended, the modified restrictions are set to expire December 14.
Education, including K-12, higher education and childcare, is unaffected.
During the press conference, Inslee said he would allocate $50 million of federal aid to help businesses and their employees. He hopes to distribute the money as loans and grants before the end of the year.
Previously, the governor’s office distributed $25 million in grants for small businesses and $100 million in rental assistance, Inslee said during the press
“We know this is not enough,” Inslee said. “This is not going to mitigate all the economic suffering by a long shot, but it’s what we’ve been able to do so far.”
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