New COVID-19 restrictions announced: Indoor dining and social gatherings prohibited

Gov. Jay Inslee announced new sweeping restrictions for Washington on Sunday morning to control the spread of COVID-19.

Just 11 days before the Thanksgiving holiday, indoor social gatherings outside of someone’s household are prohibited.

Starting Tuesday, bowling alleys, movie theaters, gyms, museums, zoos and aquariums will all be forced to stop any indoor services or activities. Indoor dining at bars and restaurants will stop on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Outdoor dining will be allowed but no more than five people at one table.

Schools, higher education and childcare are all exempt in this order and will follow the current guidelines in place. The restrictions also don’t apply to courts or court-related proceedings.

The restrictions will stay in place until at least Dec. 14.

Washington broke its daily case record three times in one week, with an all-time high of 2,286 cases on Friday. It was something the state’s Department of Health feared and speculated would happen: a post-Halloween spike starting a new fall/winter wave of COVID-19 infections. Cases started to climb in the days after Halloween and with Thanksgiving weekend right around the corner, the governor’s office moved to try and stop further spread of the virus.

The University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations projects cases could climb as high as more than 10,000 a day by the end of the year without the use of masks and social distancing. Universal mask-wearing and social distancing could cut that number by more than half.

Below is a full list of the new restrictions in Washington.

  • 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 starting at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18. 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 below: Gov. Jay Inslee’s news conference discussing sweeping new COVID-19 restrictions for the state.