Governor issues statewide stay-at-home order to slow spread of COVID-19

In a statewide television address Monday, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee announced he will sign a statewide order that requires Washingtonians to stay at home.  The order will last for two weeks and could be extended.

The Stay Home, Stay Healthy order is similar to orders that other governors in places such as California and New York issued last week.

This proclamation will:

  • Require every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity.
  • Ban all gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes.
  • Close all businesses except essential businesses. Business closures must happen 48 hours after Inslee signs the order. Many businesses can, and should, continue using telework, the governor’s office said. You can see the complete list of essential businesses here.

“The less time we spend in public, the more lives we will save,” Inslee said.

The proclamation states it’s still safe for people to go outside as long as they remain at least 6 feet from each other. Grocery stores, doctor’s offices and other essential businesses will remain open. People can still participate in activities such as bike rides, gardening, and dog walking — as long as they follow social distancing rules. Restaurants will still be open for takeout and delivery.

According to an announcement from the governor’s office, the order builds on dramatic steps the state has taken in the past few weeks, including closing schools and sit-down restaurants, entertainment venues and other businesses where people congregate.

Inslee announcing his plans for a stay-at-home order.

“We’ve been very clear on the need for everyone to stay home,” Inslee said. “And, while most Washingtonians are doing their part, some still don’t grasp the seriousness of this pandemic.”

This order applies to private and public gatherings, including weddings and funerals. Along with other public places, non-essential businesses with in-office personnel functions must be closed. Inslee said it’s crucial to reduce social interactions where this highly contagious virus can spread.

All grocery stores, pharmacies, child care facilities, gas stations, food supply chains and other things that offer people basic, crucial needs will remain open. Inslee expects businesses and residents to voluntarily comply. He will discuss possible enforcement mechanisms in the coming days if residents and businesses do not comply.

(Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson on Sunday night issued his own stay-at-home order that is a misdemeanor carrying a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail. However, at a news conference Monday afternoon, Nelson said that the city’s enforcement focus will be on education, and Acting Police Chief Jim Lawless said, “It’s a very very last resort that we would cite someone” for violating the mayor’s order.)

Tthe governor’s office announcement stated that industries that can argue they are essential can request a special designation as an essential business. Businesses and entities that provide essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least 6 feet.

“We know life will look different tomorrow in Washington,” Inslee said. “And we know tonight’s announcement affects millions of our livelihoods. But these necessary restrictions will protect us and our loved ones so that we have a livelihood to come back to. We will keep working until this is defeated.”

The governor stressed that food supply operations — including hunger relief and nutritional support services — are essential services that will remain open and operational through this crisis. You can still go to a food pantry to pick up groceries but check the hours before you go. Hours of operation may vary and many hunger relief organizations are moving to new ways to distribute food, such as home delivery and drop-off sites.

In addition, food bank volunteers may continue to go to work at food pantries.


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