The 800 residents of the small town of Mossyrock, WA refused to comply with Governor Jay Inslee's COVID-19 restrictions and shutdown orders. The town passed a resolution last month to allow all of its 30 businesses to stay open.
According to the ordinance unanimously passed on Nov. 18, the town "...will not recognize" Inslee's orders to temporarily prohibit indoor dining and to limit food service to outdoor seating or takeout.
Mayor Randall Sasser said when passing the measure that he had seen no data showing the local zip code has any cases or deaths. The mayor argued that suicides and economic devastation are a greater threat in their area, according to KIRO Radio.
"When we look at the shutdowns and everything that’s happening and there's no data that says the Mossyrock area 98564 zip code has any cases or deaths, why then should we suffer as a city and as citizens following the governor’s mandate?" Sasser told KIRO host Dori Monson.
Sasser told KGW "We all understand that there is an issue here but when it comes to shutting down businesses and not looking at the other parts, domestic violence, the drug abuse, the alcoholism and suicide rates… it's part of a discussion that has to happen."
On Saturday, hundreds of people from all over the state, converged on the small town in Lewis County to support small businesses hit hard by the pandemic.
The "Freedom Rally" gave people a chance to vent their frustrations about Inslee's latest set of COVID-19 restrictions that prohibit indoor dining and set capacity restrictions on retail stores and religious institutions. Organizers of the rally encouraged attendees to bring money and shop local. Multiple local restaurants had long lines.
"I'm pleased that we do have a lot of support and it’s gone peaceful, I'm happy for that, happy for our businesses," Sasser told KGW.
Local officials say that the pandemic has stretched the town's economy by forcing the cancellation of Mossyrock's Blueberry Festival and the nearby Loggers Jubilee this year which brings in revenue for local retailers.
"They're frustrated at being told what they can and can't do in their homes, where they can and can't shop," rally attendee Arminta Mellis told KING-TV.
"Wal-Mart and Target, and all these big box stores are open, but little mom and pop shops can’t be open. That ain't right."
According to KGW "The event remained peaceful, although the anger still simmered. Many in more rural communities feel a disconnect from the decisions made in the state's largest cities and said what's good for big city Washington may not be right for their community, as well."