Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced new restrictions in response to rising cases of the coronavirus in Washington State. It is not clear how the Governor plans to enforce the restrictions or to support affected businesses and their employees.
The following planned restrictions are scheduled to take effect Monday and are mandated through Dec. 14:
Indoor social gatherings with people from different households are prohibited.
Outdoor social gatherings of more that five people from outside the same household are prohibited.
Indoor dining at restaurants and bars is prohibited. Outdoor dining restricted to no more than five per party.
Gyms and fitness facilities are closed, as is bowling and drop off childcare.
All retail activities and business meetings are prohibited, as are real estate open houses. Retail facilities may have no more than 25 percent capacity. Professional services can operate at no more than 25 percent.
Movie theatres, museums, zoos, and aquariums are closed.
Wedding and funeral receptions are prohibited, ceremonies of no more that 30 are permitted.
Houses of worship can be no more than 25 percent or 200 people, whichever is fewer, and bands and choirs are prohibited.
Long-term care facility visits are prohibited, save for end of life or essential support.
Public schools remain closed, and any sport activities must be outdoors with athletes masked.
Despite death and hospitalization rates remaining relatively stagnant even as cases rise, Inslee opened his Sunday presser by calling it "The most dangerous health day… in our state's history."
Washingtonians have been bracing for this move following a Thursday address by the governor and his wife , asking residents to rethink how they celebrate Thanksgiving and the December holidays. In the same speech, Inslee had hinted at further actions in the coming days. Following the address on Friday, the governor issued a travel advisory, asking travelers who visit Washington to quarantine for 14 days. As has become routing for Inslee, the action follows the lead of the governors of Oregon and California who instituted similar restrictions.
Though it was touted by Inslee as two weeks to flatten the curve, Inslee's original "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" initiative was instituted on March 23 and didn't end until May 31. Counties were required to apply for phased opening from the state which Inslee paused earlier this year as cases began to rise.
Inslee has faced legal challenges multiple times over the orders. In May, the state was found to have inflated COVID death numbers by counting people who had died from gun shots and car accidents in the virus' tally.
The governor instituted what has been nicknamed the "Snitch List" for residents to report business, neighbors and even strangers for not following the mandates. Many have accused the governor of weaponizing the department of Labor and Industry to enforce restrictions against business owners while still allowing massive protests.
In a letter to the Washington Food Industry Association, President and CEO Tammie Hetrick said that she met with the governor's office and that the new restrictions will be taking effect on Monday.
In the letter, Hetrick says that all indoor social gathering will be prohibited but that it is unclear "…how this will be enforced…." Restaurants and bars are closed for indoor service and takeout is limited to 5 people at a time. A 25 percent capacity will be instituted on all retailers including grocery stores, not including employees.
Mask restrictions are also expected to be updated even though Washington has been under a mask mandate for months. A Centers for Disease Control report released in September shows that masks and face coverings are not effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, even for those people who consistently wear them. Nothing has been done to address the consequences of lockdowns including economic impact, suicide, depression, substance abuse and mental health.
In April, during the first stay-at-home order in Washington state, restaurants and hotels lost 191,000 jobs. 100,000 hospitality workers gradually returned to work. As of August, approximately 1,300 business have closed throughout the region, including more than 100 in Seattle, leading to 47,000 people being out of work in Seattle alone.
Over 20,000 Washingtonians have still not received unemployment checks after Inslee enabled Nigerian scammers to defraud the Washington State unemployment fund of over one billion dollars. Since February there have been no meaningful effort to mitigate the economic impact of the restrictions on businesses and employees.
Washington Hospitality Association's President and CEO, Anthony Anton told KOMO News that another shutdown could be devastating. "If we have to shut down again, that means we're going to lose those 100,000 jobs," said Anton. The association says 35 percent of restaurants in Washington state may close permanently. That number could increase dramatically with another extended stay at home order.
According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, nearly half of the hotels in the state could go into foreclosure without more help from the government.