Gov. Jay Inslee just added three more weeks to the COVID-19 safety restrictions he imposed to control the pandemic.
Inslee’s three-week extension of COVID-19 safety restrictions means restaurants won’t be able to offer indoor dining for the new year. His order is in effect until at least Jan. 4.
The governor’s restrictions also apply to fitness centers and other indoor businesses like movie theaters.
“At the moment, we have to face the reality, and the reality is that we are suffering a very dire situation with the pandemic,” Inslee said.
At his news conference, the governor pointed to COVID-19 cases at record highs. He said almost 1,000 COVID-19 patients are in Washington hospitals and that 80% of intensive care unit beds statewide are already occupied — though not all those patients are suffering from COVID-19.
“While this COVID is at crisis levels, what we do now literally will be a matter of life and death for many of our citizens,” Inslee said.
With many businesses on the brink, Inslee also today announced another $50 million in grants for businesses.
And he’s using state money to extend federal pandemic unemployment assistance for gig workers because it will expire at the end of the month if Congress doesn’t act.
Inslee said he consulted with Republican lawmakers.
But they said he could do more if he called them into a special session to tap the rainy day fund.
Newly elected Senate Minority Leader John Braun said, “I appreciate that he’s willing to help out these folks that are in tough times, but I really wish we would have planned ahead for this and had a special session.”
Braun said he was consulted by the Inslee administration and indicated reluctant support for the extension of the restrictions but added, “For the folks that are out of a job or, you know, face the prospects of losing their business, or their livelihood, their retirement, it’s hard to be too encouraged by this whole thing.”
Inslee said, “This extension could end up shorter if there was significant improvement and, unfortunately, people know what could end up longer if there’s a deterioration.”
See below for a full list of the restrictions that are being extended.
- Indoor social gatherings with people from outside your household are prohibited.
- Outdoor social gatherings should be limited to five people from outside your household.
- Restaurants and bars are closed for indoor service. Outdoor dining and to-go service are permitted. The table size limit for outdoor dining is five people.
- Fitness facilities and gyms are closed for indoor operations. Outdoor fitness classes may still occur, but they are limited by the outdoor gathering restriction listed above. Drop-off childcare is closed.
- 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 is allowed. Occupancy in each meeting room is limited to 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
- Movie theaters are closed for indoor service. Drive-in movie theaters are still permitted and must follow the current drive-in movie theater guidance.
- Museums, zoos and aquariums are closed for indoor service.
- Real estate open houses are prohibited.
- Wedding and funeral receptions are prohibited. Ceremonies are limited to no more than 30 people.
- In-store retail is limited to 25% indoor occupancy and must close any common seating areas. Indoor seating at food courts is prohibited.
- Religious services are limited to 25% indoor occupancy/no more than 200 people, whichever is fewer. No choir, band or ensemble shall perform during the service. Soloists are permitted to perform. Congregation members must wear face coverings the entire time and no congregational singing.
- Professional services are required to mandate that employees work from home when possible and to close offices to the public. If they remain open, occupancy is restricted to 25%.
- Personal services are limited to 25% of maximum occupancy.
- Long-term care facilities will have outdoor visits only. Exceptions can be made for essential people and end-of-life care.
- Youth (school and non-school) and adult sporting activities are limited to outdoor-only intrateam practices and athletes must wear masks.
A household is defined as the individuals residing in the same home.
Watch Inslee’s full press conference below: