Governor Announces Tighter COVID-19 Restrictions Including In-Home Gatherings

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Updated: On November 15, Governor Jay Inslee announced a four-week tightening of COVID-19 restrictions that will begin Monday, November 16 at midnight.

In response to what the Governor and state officials have dubbed an “explosive situation,” the series of updated measures are aimed at pushing back this third wave of the pandemic.

Washington has “entered a phase of accelerated or exponential growth of the outbreak,” State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said. “The number of cases reported each day in our state has more than doubled from about 1,000 cases a day reported, to more than 2,200 cases reported per day. If that doubling time continues, in two more weeks, we’ll be seeing over 4,000 cases per day.”

“Today we are in a more dangerous position than we were in March,” the Governor continued during the special weekend press conference, but he is confident that Washington can knock down the virus again. To do that, he is implementing a series of modified restrictions, including:

  • Indoor gatherings with people outside the household will be prohibited unless participants:
    1. Quarantine for fourteen days (14) prior to the social gathering; or
    2. Quarantine for the seven (7) days prior to the gathering, and receive a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 48-hours prior to the gathering.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than five people.
  • Restaurants and Bars are closed for indoor dine-in service. Outdoor dining and to-go service are permitted, provided that all outdoor dining must comply with the requirements of the Outdoor Dining Guidance. Table size for outdoor dining is limited to a maximum of five (5) people. These modified restaurant and bar restrictions go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, November 18, 2020.
  • Fitness Facilities and Gyms are closed for indoor operations. Outdoor fitness classes are permitted but are subject to and limited by the outdoor social gathering restriction listed above.
  • Bowling Centers are closed for indoor service.
  • Miscellaneous Venues: All retail activities and business meetings are prohibited. Only professional training and testing that cannot be performed remotely, as well as all court and judicial branch-related proceedings, are allowed. Occupancy in each meeting room is limited to 25 percent of indoor occupancy limits or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
    • Miscellaneous venues include: convention/conference centers, designated meeting spaces in a hotel, events centers, fairgrounds, sporting arenas, nonprofit establishment, or a substantially similar venue.
  • Movie Theaters are closed for indoor service. Drive-in movie theaters are permitted and must continue to follow current drive-in movie theater guidance.
  • Museums/Zoos/Aquariums are closed for indoor service.
  • Real Estate: Open houses are prohibited.
  • Wedding and Funerals: Ceremonies are limited to a total of no more than 30 people. Indoor receptions, wakes, or similar gatherings in conjunction with such ceremonies are prohibited.
  • In-Store Retail shall be limited to 25 percent of indoor occupancy limits, and common/congregate seating areas and indoor dining facilities such as food courts are closed.
  • Religious Services are limited to 25 percent of indoor occupancy limits, or no more than 200 people, whichever is fewer. Congregation members/attendees must wear facial coverings at all times and congregation singing is prohibited. No choir, band, or ensemble shall perform during the service. Vocal or instrumental soloists are permitted to perform, and vocal soloists may have a single accompanist. Outdoor services must follow the Outdoor Dining Guidance, found here, applicable to the structure or facility.
  • Professional Services are required to mandate that employees work from home when possible and close offices to the public if possible. Any office that must remain open must limit occupancy to 25 percent of indoor occupancy limits.
  • Personal Services are limited to 25 percent of indoor occupancy limits.
    • Personal service providers include: cosmetologists, cosmetology testing, hairstylists, barbers, estheticians, master estheticians, manicurists, nail salon workers, electrologists, permanent makeup artists, tanning salons, and tattoo artists.
  • Long-term Care Facilities: Outdoor visits are permitted. Indoor visits are prohibited, but individual exceptions for an essential support person or end-of-life care are permitted. These restrictions are also extended to the facilities in Proclamation 20-74, et seq. All other provisions of Proclamations 20-66, et seq., and 20-74, et seq., including all preliminary criteria to allow any visitors, remain in effect.
  • Youth and Adult Sporting Activities: Indoor activities and all contests and games are prohibited. Outdoor activities shall be limited to intra-team practices only, with facial coverings required for all coaches, volunteers and athletes at all times.

While not as restrictive as March’s “Stay Home Order,” the revised guidelines place an immense financial burden on small businesses. The state is committing an additional $50 million in aid; the details of the financial assistance program will be announced in the coming days. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans through the Small Business Administration are still available to small businesses. (Follow this link for tips from a Mercer Island business owner.)

The restrictions are statewide and will take effect Monday, November 16 at 11:59 PM and will remain in effect until Monday, December 14. The modified restrictions of restaurants, however, will take effect Wednesday, November 18 at 12:01 AM.

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