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In a broadcast Monday evening, Governor Jay Inslee issued a stay at home order for Washington State. The Governor did not state an end date for the order, but multiple times stated that the order would be in effect for “…a minimum of two weeks," stating that “…it’s time to hunker down.”
The order will close many businesses and public places as well as forbid weddings and funerals, expanding the event ban already in place. Though the Governor acknowledged the hardship this places on local businesses, specifically referencing restaurants and bars that he mandated shut down last week, he again did not offer plans or proposals to mitigate the effect on businesses or their employees.
Inslee did quote poetry and hoped that we will “…be able to toast the end of the virus at our favorite bar/restaurant” when it is over. Inslee did not offer concrete plans for how to offset the mounting losses on businesses in the area which may not be around to serve those toasts. The ban takes effect in 48 hours, on Wednesday evening, March 25. The order is effective immediately on gatherings, both public and private, social, spiritual, and recreational.
The order will not affect businesses deemed “essential” such as grocery stores, gas stations, banks healthcare and childcare services, but those businesses are required to ensure “social distancing.” Restaurants can continue to offer takeout/delivery services.
The order comes as social media was filled this past week with people out and about enjoying the beaches and parks in Washington, some even filled to capacity. Public officials in Washington as well as members of the media, spent last week encouraging Washingtonians to stay indoors to avoid a stay at home/shelter in place order. The Governor did specify that the order did not mean people could not go outside and proceeded to encourage citizens go for walks, bike rides and other physical activities.
The Governor has still not shut down mass transit. Opponents of doing so question how “essential” workers will get to jobs while proponents of a transit shut down cite concerns of spreading the virus through the transit system.
Inslee did not discuss how this order would affect the 11,000 plus people sleeping on the streets of Seattle, who have been specifically cited as more susceptible to contracting and spreading the disease.
Many government employees are still reporting to work every day. There was no discussion of government workers being furloughed even though businesses are being required to close.
Washington now joins California, Indiana, St. Louis, Philadelphia, as well as cities and towns in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, and others with the shelter-at-home/stay-in-place order.
“People will need to stay home unless absolutely necessary,” said Inslee. The Governor also discouraged the hoarding of supplies and for people to only buy what they need to make sure health care workers, seniors, and people who are ill still have access to necessities.