PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced an extension of COVID-19 restrictions during a press conference on Tuesday morning.
Gov. Inslee announced the current state restrictions on dining and gatherings will be extended for three weeks. The restrictions had previously been scheduled to end on December 14, but will now be in place until January 4.
Department of Commerce Director Lisa Brown joined Inslee at the press briefing to detail the spiraling situation with the pandemic and the state’s response. The two of them announced an additional $50 million in state grants and loans will be available for small businesses.
“We prioritize industries that have been hit the hardest, restaurants, fitness centers, bowling alleys or that have experienced significant cumulative impacts like music and live venues,” Inslee said.
The governor also said the new round of money includes additional safeguards for employees affected by the pandemic. This latest financial help is in addition to the $135 million relief package announced two weeks ago.
As of Monday, Washington reported a cumulative total of 177,447 cases with 2,925 deaths.
Statewide COVID-19 Restrictions
With the restrictions, most businesses must close their indoor services, including fitness facilities and gyms, bowling centers, movie theaters, museums, zoos and aquariums. Retail stores —including grocery stores — must limit their indoor capacity to 25%.
Additionally, indoor social gatherings with people from more than one household are also prohibited unless attendees have either quarantined for 14 days before the gathering or tested negative for COVID-19 and have quarantined for seven days.
While weddings and funerals can still occur, ceremonies are limited to no more than 30 people and receptions are prohibited. Real estate open houses will be prohibited, personal services — like hair salons — will be limited to 25% of maximum occupancy and professional services are required to mandate remote work when possible, and when not, to be restricted to 25% occupancy.
Under the new restrictions, only outdoor visits will be allowed at long-term care facilities and religious services will be capped at either 25% indoor occupancy or 200 people, whichever is fewer. Outdoor gatherings are limited to five people.
A week ago, Inslee introduced Washington state’s newest tool in the fight against coronavirus — WA Notify. This app can be added to residents’ smartphones, who will then be alerted if they spent time near another user who later tests positive for COVID-19.
Washington joins several other states in using this tool, including Virginia, New York and Colorado. Countries such as Ireland, Canada and Germany are successfully using the technology, as well.
Watch the full press conference below: