In an attempt to get a grip on the ongoing surge of new coronavirus cases in Washington, Governor Jay Inslee and Washington State Health Secretary John Wiesman announced new, weirdly nuanced restrictions on weddings and funerals, restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and other businesses across the state.
The Governor's new orders limit indoor dining to members of the same household sitting at the same table, but people can still dine outdoors with others outside their household.
All bars must close for indoor service no matter if they serve food, and alcohol service in restaurants must end at 10:00 p.m.
Counties currently in Phase 3 must reduce table sizes to no more than five people, and reduce indoor occupancy to 50%.
Those restrictions on restaurants and bars take effect on July 30. Inslee said public health officials believe "indoor facilities are the most problematic" in terms of COVID transmission, and added that these measures are a "realistic if somewhat nuanced way to reduce the transmission that could go on in restaurants.”
Socially distant weddings and funerals, both secular and religious, can still take place, but receptions are prohibited. Max occupancy at nuptial or grieving ceremonies is limited to 20%, or up to 30 people. These restrictions start on August 6.
Only 5 people can go to a gym at a time in counties in Phase 2, which includes us gym-sculpted maniacs here in King. Gyms in Phase 3 counties must reduce occupancy to 25%.
Family recreation centers—e.g. bowling alleys, indoor mini-golf courses, pool halls, and arcades—can't open until Phase 4. And movie theaters operating in Phase 3 counties must limit occupancy to 25%.
Inslee also told the youths to quit partying at large or even relatively medium-sized gatherings, for the sake of the village.
He said the share of new coronavirus cases among young people has risen from 22% to 45% (DOH data shows that 20-39-year-olds account for 39% of current COVID cases, which is still higher than any other age group), and issued the following plea:
“If you’re 25, and you’ve been invited to go out to a friends house, where you know there’s going to be 20 of your buddies there, and you’re going to hang for a few hours—there’s probably nothing more fun in life than to do that. I get that. But there’s probably nothing more dangerous right now. And if more young people will accept this responsibility, fewer of their parents will die, because they won’t get infected, and they won’t go home and infect their dad, and they won’t infect their grandmother. Technically it’s a crime, it’s misdemeanor to have one of those illicit gatherings. But it’s worse than that. You can kill somebody you love.”
So save the bonfires and boozy brunches for next summer, you little freaks!!!
In other news, Wiesman expanded the statewide masking initiative to include "any common spaces, not just publicly accessible places"—which means everyone must mask up in all shared spaces (e.g. elevators, hallways, lobbies) in apartments, condos, university housing, hotels, motels, and in congregate settings such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and family homes. This order goes into effect this Saturday, July 25.
Inslee also announced that he'll soon extend the state's eviction moratorium through October 15. The current moratorium expires in August. More details to come on that, but Inslee said he'll "look at the potential for rent increases," which are currently prohibited, if the next moratorium needs to stay in place past October.
Tenant advocates, lawyers, and researchers argue that without major rental assistance programs and stronger tenant protections a wave of evictions will wash across the state once the governor lifts the moratorium, pushing thousands into homelessness in the middle of a deadly pandemic.