Gov. Inslee issues new restrictions to slow spread of COVID-19 in Washington state

On Monday, businesses will follow new state restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Washington state, including limited indoor social gatherings, restaurants must close indoor service, and retail, including grocery stores, must limit indoor capacity.  

Gov. Inslee announced the new precautions in a Sunday morning news conference, saying the restrictions will take effect on Monday at 11:59 p.m. and last four weeks, ending on December 14th.  

New restrictions for businesses include: 

  • Indoor social gatherings with people outside your household are prohibited, unless you quarantined for 14 days prior, or quarantine for 7 days and have a negative COVID-19 test
  • Outdoor social gatherings must be limited to 5 people from outside your household  
  • Restaurants and bars are closed for indoor service. Outdoor dining for to-go services are allowed, but must follow outdoor dining restrictions.
  • Tables are limited to 5 people for outdoor dining. Restaurant restrictions go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18
  • Wedding and funerals receptions are prohibited. Ceremonies are limited to no more than 30 people.
  • In-store retail, including grocery stores, must be limited to 25% indoor capacity and must close common areas. Food court dining must close.
  • Religious services are limited to 25% indoor occupancy or no more than 200 people, whichever is fewer. No choir, band or ensemble can perform during service. Soloist are permitted to perform. Facial coverings must be worn at all times. 
  • Long-term care facilities outdoor care visits are allowed. Exceptions for essential support person or end-of-life care. 
  • Youth and adult sporting activities are limited to outdoor only, intrateam practices and masks are required for all athletes.  
  • Bowling centers must close indoor service 
  • Fitness facilities and gyms are to close for indoor service. Outdoor fitness classes may continue, but still follow outdoor gathering restrictions. Drop-off childcare will close. 
  • Misc. venues: all retail activities and business meetings are prohibited.  Professional training and testing that cannot be done remotely is allowed. Occupancy in meeting rooms are limited to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. 
  • Movie theaters must close indoor service. Drive-in movie theaters are allowed.  
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums must close indoor service 
  • Real estate open houses are not allowed. 
  • All childcare services, K-12th grade and higher education is exempt from the new restrictions and will also continue with current guidance measures in place.  

"This spike puts us in a more dangerous position as we were in March,” Inslee said during a press conference Sunday. “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. These were very difficult decisions that have very real consequences to people’s livelihoods. I recognize that and don’t take those impacts lightly, but we must act now and act quickly to slow the spread of this disease.”

Many health and city officials joined Inslee in the news conference, including Dr. Kathy Lofy, Washington state health officer and Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan. 

Durkan addressed the hardships of this year and not seeing family during the holidays. 

“This year’s holiday season will be hard as we cannot gather with our loved ones the way we normally would. But celebrating at a distance is how we keep everyone safe. We are at a crucial point in the pandemic and our actions will shape our ability to return to a more normal life in the months to come. Everyone who lives and works in Seattle must mask up, avoid gatherings - especially all indoor gatherings, and follow all public health guidance. The City will continue to do all it can by maintaining our successful testing programs, working with public health officials to see if we can increase contact tracing, and doing all we can to help our businesses and workers. It’s up to all of us to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities, particularly our most vulnerable,” said Durkan. 

The state was under a stay-at-home order from March 23 until the end of May. 

All of Washington’s 39 counties are paused in either the second or third phase of a four-stage reopening plan that began in early May to start lifting restrictions on businesses and other activities. 

For the second day in a row Saturday, Washington state health officials reported a record number of daily cases, with 2,233 new cases as of 11:59 p.m. Friday. That brought the state’s totals to 127,731 cases and 2,519 deaths. 

In Oregon, officials on Saturday reported a third straight day with more than 1,000 new COVID infections. That brought Oregon’s total to 56,018 cases. The Oregon Health Authority also reported six more deaths, pushing the state’s death toll to 759. 

Idaho also has been setting records for new cases and hospitalizations, adding 1,331 new cases Friday. 

On Friday, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington issued travel advisories urging people entering or returning to their states to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the coronavirus as infections spike across the U.S. 

The advisories stopped short of stricter rules imposed by other governors and instead said people should avoid non-essential out-of-state travel and quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.