On Sunday, Nov. 15, Gov. Jay Inslee declared Washington State would be under new COVID-19 restrictions. During a press conference, Gov. Inslee stated, “Today, Sunday, November 15, 2020, is the most dangerous public health day in the last 100 years of our state’s history. A pandemic is raging in our state. Left unchecked, it will assuredly result in grossly overburdened hospitals and morgues; and keep people from obtaining routine but necessary medical treatment for non-COVID conditions.”
Although Washington State has practiced a mask mandate and several businesses were already following restrictions for months, COVID-19 has continued to infect communities. To date, the state has recorded over 135,000 cases. Washington had just 225 cases in March when the first lockdown was issued.
The new regulations state that indoor gatherings are prohibited unless participants have had a two-week quarantine, and test negative COVID-19 two days before the gathering. All stores may only have 25 percent occupancy, down from 30 percent and indoor seating is prohibited. All businesses must make every possible effort to allow employees to work from home. However, businesses such as salons and other personal care facilities may continue to operate but at the same 25 percent capacity. Any outdoor activities, such as youth sports, may only hold outdoor practices. Additionally, masks must be worn at all times during any outside interactions or activities. These regulations are set to remain in place for four weeks, until December 14.
Congress is not currently considering any financial relief packages. The Democrat-led House of Representatives has passed two relief packages, but these bills have not received support from the Republican-controlled Senate.
Many in Washington State remain concerned about the outlook of another COVID-19 shutdown. Gov. Inslee, however, has said an additional $50 million in federal aid will be given to businesses and workers to limit the economic impact of the new restrictions. This aid will be distributed through the form of grants and loans through the end of the year.
Washingtonians across the political spectrum are seeing the impacts of COVID-19 ravage our state. Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, a Republican, conveyed, “While I remain very concerned about the impact of this order on our already struggling small businesses and restaurants, I know that we cannot allow the rate of COVID-19 transmission to continue at its alarming pace. Without significant action, we risk overwhelming our hospitals and threatening our health care system.”