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Inslee announces increased reopening restrictions: ‘we need fewer, shorter, safer interactions’

By: Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff

OLYMPIA, WA- Governor Jay Inslee has revised restrictions on businesses to mitigate an increased rate of coronavirus cases and extended the statewide eviction moratorium due to anticipated elongated economic impact, announced Thursday, July 23 during a press conference.

“I care about businesses opening and people getting back to work, but public health and economic activity go hand in hand,” Inslee said. “Our suppression of this virus is not at the level it needs to be to continue allowing for more activity. If we let this virus get even more out of control, it will have devastating effects on our health and our economy.”

The new restrictions will affect restaurants, bars, fitness centers, weddings, and funerals, as well as family entertainment centers, movie theaters, and card rooms. They are set to take effect on July 30, with the exception of weddings and funerals.

For restaurants and bars, indoor dining will now be limited to household members at the same table. Outdoor seating is permitted for people not living in the same household. Table seating is not to exceed five people and total occupancy to 50% capacity indoors in Phase 3.

“We’re taking this step because we believe it reduces the potential for exposure and transmission in dining facilities and we know these indoor facilities are the most problematic,” said Inslee.

Indoor service in bars is no longer permitted, and alcohol sales must end at 10 p.m. Restaurants and bars will also need to close down designated game areas.

Businesses such as card rooms, bowling alleys and arcades cannot open until Phase 4 and indoor movie theater occupancy will be limited to 25% in Phase 3.

Occupancy in indoor fitness centers is limited to five individuals, not including staff, in Phase 2. This includes gyms, fitness studios, indoor pools, ice rinks, volleyball courts, and tennis facilities, said Inslee. Counties in or moving into Phase 3, are required to restrict indoor fitness centers to 25%. Group fitness classes cannot exceed more than 10 participants, excluding the instructor.

Modifications to weddings and funerals apply to both secular religious services. Receptions are now prohibited, but ceremonies will continue to be permitted in all phases, with limitations to 20% attendee occupancy or up to 30 people- whichever is fewer. Adequate accommodations for physical distancing are required with attendees maintaining 6 feet of distance from one another. Restrictions are set to take effect for weddings and funerals on Thursday, August 6.

“These prohibitions are part of our approach, but they only supplement what we really need, which is for individuals to continue to make safe decisions and adhere to healthy practices,” Inslee said. “We do not take these steps lightly. We know every prohibition is a challenge for individuals and business owners. But we know that if we fail to act, we expose people and businesses to even greater risk down the line.

Acknowledging increased coronavirus-induced restrictions will further delay the reopening of the economy and increased economic hardship,
the statewide eviction moratorium will also be extended through October 15 with more details to come, Inslee said. The moratorium was set to expire on August 1.

State Health Department Secretary John Wiesman also expanded his face-covering mandate to incorporate all common areas, extending on his previous order requiring masks in publically accessible spaces. The rule, to go into effect July 30, will include elevators, hallways, shared spaces in apartment buildings, hotels, university housing, assisted-living facilities, and adult family homes.

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