Graphic from www.governor.wa.gov
Graphic from www.governor.wa.gov

Based on rising COVID-19 cases in the state, Gov. Jay Inslee imposed greater restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

As scientists warned might happen in the fall, the state is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, prompting the latest mandate.

“This spike puts us in a more dangerous position as we were in March, 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,” Inslee said at a press conference Sunday.

Under his latest mandate, the restrictions, which began Tuesday, today for restaurants, will last through Dec. 14.

Similar to measures taken at the beginning of the pandemic, indoor service at restaurants and bars is prohibited. Outdoor service is limited to parties of five people or less.

Retail businesses are limited to 25 percent of occupancy, and food court seating at malls are closed. Offices are closed to the public, and employees must work from home if possible. Occupancy is limited to 25 percent if they remain open.

Salons, barbers and other personal-care businesses are limited to 25 percent capacity, and real estate open houses are prohibited.

All indoor youth and adult sporting activities are prohibited, as are contests and games. Only intra-team outdoor practices are permitted, and all athletes, coaches and volunteers must wear masks.

Indoor gyms and fitness centers are closed, but outdoor activities are allowed up to five people. Movie theaters, which just recently reopened to the public, bowling alleys, zoos, aquariums and museums are restricted to outdoor activities.

Long-term care facilities are only permitted visitors in outdoor settings. As well, according to the governor’s mandate, religious services are restricted to 25 percent capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer, and masks must always be worn. Weddings and funeral ceremonies can have 30 people or less, and receptions are prohibited.

Restrictions also prohibit indoor gatherings with people outside of one household, unless everyone has quarantined and tested negative for COVID-19. Outdoor gatherings are limited to five people or less.

According to Inslee’s office, K-12 and higher education, child care and courts and court proceedings are exempt.

Inslee said Sunday that the decisions were not made lightly but were necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We understand that this is both an economic and a public health crisis,” Inslee said at his press conference. “We do not take lightly the impact these restrictions will have on local businesses, many of which have already had a very difficult year. You are not alone, and we will continue to provide supports.”

On Friday, Inslee issued a travel advisory, recommending residents stay close to home and for interstate and international travelers to quarantine 14 days after entering the state or returning home from travel. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued the same advisories for their states.

After Sunday’s announcement, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan stated in a press release that Inslee and public health officials had no choice but to act. According to the release, 1,550 residents had been diagnosed with the virus during the first two weeks of the month — nearly 20 percent of the city’s total cases since March. The city’s case count per 100,000 residents is more than five times greater than at the end of the summer, increasing from 40.8 cases per 100,000 residents to more than 232 cases per 100,000. Hospitalizations are also four times higher, up from 1.3 per 100,000 residents to 6.1, according to the release.

For more information about Inslee’s orders or other coronavirus resources, go to www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources.