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Inslee announces statewide social gathering limits


March 19, 2020

Courtesy photo

Governor Jay Inslee

Earlier announcement calls for Statewide school closures

SEATTLE-Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Monday, March 16, an emergency proclamation that mandates the immediate two-week closure of all restaurants, bars, and entertainment and recreational facilities, as well as additional limits on large gatherings. The new orders go into effect at midnight tonight and will be in place through March 31.

The announcement comes after the recent spike in numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state and across the country.

"If we are living a normal life, we are not doing our jobs as Washingtonians," Inslee said. "We cannot do that anymore. We need to make changes, regardless of size. All of us need to do more. We must limit the number of people we come in contact with. This is the new normal."

Inslee made the announcement in Seattle with King County Executive Dow Constantine and other local and health leaders via streaming and telephone to practice social distancing measures.

Statewide closure of all on-site food or beverage services

Inslee announced the two-week ban on any food or beverage service, regardless of location, that provides or allows on-site consumption.

The ban will not apply to grocery stores and pharmacies.

The ban includes, but is not limited to:


•Food courts,

•Bars and taverns

•Wine, beer and spirits tasting venues,

•Doughnut shops and ice cream parlors,

•Coffee shops

•Sit down airport restaurants and bars.

Take-out, delivery and drive-thru food and beverage services are not banned under the proclamation.

College and higher education campus dining halls are banned from providing on-site dining but may provide take-out and delivery options. On-site food service and other related activities are permitted for childcare services and school-based food programs for K-12 schools.

Statewide guidance for social distancing in retail stores

Businesses are expected to ensure adequate environmental cleaning of stores and must designate an employee or officer to implement a social distancing plan for their business.

Once again, grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open under the emergency proclamation.

"The supply chain is strong," Inslee said. "Grocery stores will continue operating and providing services to Washingtonians. There is no need to hoard food or supplies. Everyone needs to only buy what they need, and they need to remember when they overbuy, those things are taken away from their neighbors and others who need them now."

Statewide closure of entertainment, leisure and non-essential services

Inslee also included entertainment, leisure and non-essential services in today's emergency proclamation.

The ban includes, but is not limited to:


•Bowling alleys

•Gyms and fitness centers

•Non-tribal card rooms


•Art galleries

•Tattoo parlors

•Barbers, hair salons and nail salons

Statewide ban on gatherings of 50 or larger

Inslee also announced a further executive order expanding on orders from last week. Last Friday, Inslee expanded the ban on events larger than 250 beyond the Puget Sound region to the entire state. Today, he announced the ban will decrease in size to prohibit all events of 50 or larger statewide.

Additionally, all gatherings with under 50 participants are prohibited unless criteria from the CDC for public health and social distancing are met.

"I am proud of how Washingtonians have stepped up and worked together," Inslee said. "I know we still have long days ahead, but I know that together we will prevail and be a stronger state as a result. We will get through this together and life will return to normal, but the steps we are taking now will help us get back to normal sooner.

"I ask everyone to take these steps to protect themselves, their families and their communities. Everyone needs to play their part. "

On Friday, March 13, Governor Inslee issued a Statewide closure of all K-12 public and private schools. Every district throughout the state of Washington is now closed for the next six weeks.

Schools will be closed from 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, March 17 through 12:00 p.m. on Friday, April 24. The timing will coincide with spring break for most Washington school districts.

Under this order, schools must close and end classes by end of day this Monday, March 16. The first possible weekday back will be April 27.

On Thursday, March 12, Inslee announced closures in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties.

"Just as with King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties, there are critical services our schools provide that will need to continue during closures," Inslee said. "That includes nutrition and child care. This will need to be addressed throughout the state of Washington. I urge labor and management to work together in the best interest of kids. This is not a vacation, work may look different, but the expectation is that school employees will still be working."


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