Inslee, health officials detail 4-week COVID restrictions

Coronavirus

Capacity limited to 25% at retail stores

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN / AP) — Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a new set of statewide restrictions Sunday aimed to slow the resurgence of COVID-19.

Beginning Tuesday and lasting four weeks, 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, starting Tuesday, 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.

“This spike puts us in a more dangerous a position as we were in March,” Inslee said during a press conference Sunday. “And it means, unfortunately, the time has come to reinstate restrictions on activities statewide to preserve the public’s well-being, and to save lives. These were very difficult decisions that have very real consequences to people’s livelihoods. I recognize that and don’t take those impacts lightly, but we must act now and act quickly to slow the spread of this disease.”

Inslee also said the state will commit $50 million in aid to small businesses. Any business needing assistance can apply for Paycheck Protection Plan forgivable loans from the Small Business Administration, or from their local bank. If workers are kept in their jobs, the loans aren’t required to be paid back, according to the governor.

“We cannot take lightly the impact on businesses in this regard, but this is clear, we also cannot enjoy a full economic recovery when which we all desperately want without knocking down this virus. That is an economic principal we need to recognize as well. So, the business owners and employees, I want you to know, you are not alone,” Inslee said.

He said the state has already provided $100 million for rental assistance and distributed $25 million in grants to small businesses, which has saved thousands of jobs.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown and California Governor Gavin Newsom issued similar restrictions last week amid increasing infections throughout the west coast. Inslee recently joined Brown and Newsom’s travel advisory which recommends anyone traveling across state lines quarantine for 14 days. He also echoed advice from the governors urging people to stay home for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Washington underwent a stay-at-home order from March 23 until the end of May. All of Washington’s 39 counties have been paused in either the second or third phase of a four-stage reopening plan that began in early May to start lifting restrictions on businesses and other activities. The governor’s announcement Sunday temporarily rolls back all counties so that they are under the same guidelines.

Washington state saw COVID-19 cases double over the course of the previous two weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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