Inslee Announces New Economic Supports and Extension of Restrictions
For your general information, on Monday, December 8 Governor Jay Inslee held a press conference to give an update on the state's response to the ongoing pandemic and discuss economic relief for individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19. The governor was joined by Lisa Brown, Director, Washington Department of Commerce, and John Wiesman, Secretary of Health.
The Governor announced a three week extension to the current Washington State restrictions, which were to end on December 14, and have been extended until Monday, January 4. The Governor stated there is a possibility to “recalibrate but we don’t know enough yet about the pandemic’s course to be able to do that.” The extension comes due to the record high increase in cases and to not overwhelm the health care system (80% of ICU beds are full).
If the activity is not listed, it should follow its previous guidance. All K- 12/higher education, health care, and childcare are exempt from the new restrictions and will follow current guidance. These restrictions do not apply to courts and judicial branch-related proceedings.
The extended restrictions from November 15 would include:
- Indoor Social Gatherings with people from outside your household are prohibited unless they (a) quarantine for fourteen days (14) prior to the social gathering; or (b) quarantine for seven (7) days prior to the social gathering and receive a negative COVID- 19 test result no more than 48-hours prior to the gathering. A household is defined as individuals residing in the same domicile.
- Outdoor Social Gatherings shall be limited to five (5) people from outside your household.
- 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.
- 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.
The Governor also announced a new economic package where he pledged $50 million in additional state aid for businesses, as well as economic safeguards for workers impacted by the pandemic especially those hit hardest by these restrictions and he also vowed to provide unemployment benefits for some workers who may loose it if Congress does not act before the end of the year. This would be on top of the $135 million economic relief that he announced two weeks earlier.
Washington CARES Act spending so far includes:
- $120 million for rental assistance
- $69 million for food assistance
- $15 million for energy bills
- $164 million for child care
- $510 million for local governments
If you would like to view the press conference, you can click on the following link.
Inslee announces new economic supports and extension of restrictions
Gov. Jay Inslee today announced additional economic supports for workers and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Inslee also announced a three-week extension of the state’s current restrictions which will now be in place until January 4, 2021.
The three-week extension of statewide restrictions come as the state’s healthcare system nears dangerous occupancy levels. With the effects of Thanksgiving on infection and hospital numbers still unknown, the extension will grant the state’s medical system much needed time to increase Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity before it’s overwhelmed.
“What we do between now?—?when COVID activity is still at crisis levels?—?and the time when vaccines are widely available, is literally a matter of life and death,” Inslee said at a press conference Tuesday morning.
Inslee was joined by Department of Commerce Director Lisa Brown who announced an additional $50 million, doubling the number of Washington small businesses that will receive aid. Industries recently shut down, such as restaurants and fitness centers, as well as businesses that have been devastatingly impacted throughout the pandemic, like music and event venues, have been prioritized.
Read the rest of the story on the governor's Medium page.