OLYMPIA, Wash. -- In order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered the state’s more than 7 million residents to stay home unless necessary and for non-essential businesses to close for at least two weeks, expanding previous orders that had already banned large gatherings and closed bars and dine-in restaurants.
As of Monday, more than 2,200 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the state, and at least 110 people have died. Inslee said he was concerned that many weren’t taking the outbreak seriously, and said the extra measures were needed in order to save lives.
Here’s what the order means for everyday life in Washington:
STAY AT HOME:
People are required to stay home unless they are involved in an essential activity like shopping for groceries, going to a doctor’s appointment, or working at an essential business. Going outside, walking your dog, going for a run, biking and working in your garden are all still allowed, as long as social distancing of at least six feet is practiced when with someone who doesn’t live in the same household as you. Essential activities also include caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household or residence, or driving a family member, friend or pet somewhere for an essential health or safety activity. All gatherings, both private and public, are banned. These include things like playing pick-up basketball at the park, parties at the beach, funerals and weddings.
All businesses except those considered essential must close by the end of the day Wednesday, though the governor encouraged those who can do so earlier, to do so. The list of essential workforce is long, and the governor’s office has posted a document listing all of the industries and businesses covered, while noting that even more may be added. Businesses that want to clarify status, or to petition to be added to this list can email firstname.lastname@example.org. All essential businesses must implement social distancing and sanitation measures. Restaurants will be allowed to continue to serve takeout or delivery, mail will continue to be delivered and garbage and recycling will be picked up. Gas stations, banks and credit unions, grocery stores, farmers markets, pharmacies, marijuana stores, veterinarian clinics and medical centers will all remain open, as will ports and airports. Also considered essential: Law enforcement, those in public safety, first responders, and the media as well as those who support the operation, inspection, and maintenance of essential public works facilities and operations, including bridges. While funerals are postponed for the next two weeks, workers performing mortuary services, including funeral homes, crematoriums, and cemetery workers will continue to work. All public and private K-12 schools remain closed through late April.
Violation of the order is a gross misdemeanor, which means violators could face up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Inslee’s chief of staff, David Postman, said the goal isn’t to arrest people, and that it was more likely that law enforcement would be used to disperse groups.
LENGTH OF ORDER:
The stay-at-home order is currently for two weeks and will remain in place until April 6, though officials said it will be reassessed at that time and could be extended.