Inslee extends Safe Start proclamation, eviction moratorium

July 24, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday announced the extension of proclamation 20-25, Washington’s Safe Start Phased Reopening plan.  

This extension changes guidance and regulations for activities shown to provide a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure, including restaurants, bars, and fitness centers, as well as weddings and funerals. The changes will also affect family entertainment centers, movie theaters and card rooms. 

Guidance for restaurants/taverns and card rooms are being issued today; the remaining guidance will be issued early next week.

The proclamation also adopts the updated facial covering order, 20-03.1, issued today by the secretary of Health.

The proclamation, which is effective until amended or rescinded, is available here

Read updated guidance for restaurants/taverns here

Read updated guidance for card rooms here

Inslee also announced the extension of the eviction moratorium as COVID-19 continues to impact the finances of Washingtonians statewide. 

The extension makes modifications to the prior moratorium, including: 

  • Makes minor clarifications to existing restrictions, such as clarifying that law enforcement may serve eviction orders that include findings required by the proclamation; and
  • Creates a workgroup to help inform potential changes to the moratorium in the short-term and the long-term, if needed. The workgroup is specifically asked to consider how future extensions could address options to increase rent. 

The moratorium is extended through October 15. 

Read the full proclamation here

Inslee announces rollbacks to some activities to slow COVID-19 exposure

Modifications related to weddings and funerals, restaurants, bars, and fitness and entertainment centers.

July 23, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman today announced changes to “Safe Start,” Washington’s phased approach to reopening. The changes target activities that data have shown provide a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure.

It has been four months since the governor announced the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Since then, cases in Washington have risen from 2,000 to almost 50,000, and deaths have increased from 110 to nearly 1,500.

To combat the rising numbers, the governor and secretary are changing guidance and regulations around restaurants, bars, and fitness centers, as well as weddings and funerals. The changes will also affect family entertainment centers, movie theaters and card rooms.

“We do not take these steps lightly. We know every prohibition is a challenge for individuals and business owners,” Inslee said during a press conference Thursday. “But we know that if we fail to act, we expose people and businesses to even greater risk down the line.”

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Weddings and funerals

Under the new guidance, ceremonies will remain permitted, but receptions are prohibited. Ceremonies must adhere to current guidance; for all phases, maximum indoor occupancy is 20%, or up to 30 people, whichever is less, as long as social distancing can be observed.

The changes will take effect in two weeks, on Aug. 6, providing a grace period for weddings and funerals previously scheduled to take place or readjust their plans.

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Restaurants

Restaurant guidance will now require parties to be members of the same household in order to dine indoors. Outdoor dining and take-away remains available for small parties from different households.

Table size for dine-in in Phase 3 will be reduced to five individuals and occupancy reduced from 75% to 50%.

Restaurants must also close gaming and social areas, such as pool tables, dart boards and video games.

Bars will be closed for indoor service, but can continue outdoor service. Alcohol service inside of restaurants must end by 10 p.m.

These regulations take effect in one week, on July 30.

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Fitness centers

The number of individuals allowed to use fitness centers and other physical health venues at a given time will also be reduced.

In Phase 2, only five individuals — not including staff — will be allowed for indoor fitness services at a time. This includes gyms, fitness studios, and indoor pools, ice rinks, volleyball courts, and tennis facilities. These are limited to small group instruction or private training.

Fitness center occupancy in Phase 3 will be reduced to 25%. All group fitness classes are limited to no more than 10, not including the instructors.

The changes are effective July 30.

Entertainment regulations

Indoor family entertainment and recreation centers — like mini golf, bowling alleys, and arcades — are prohibited from opening, as well as indoor card rooms. Indoor movie theater occupancy will be reduced from 50% to 25% in Phase 3.

Face coverings

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In addition to those changes, Wiesman announced an expansion of his face coverings order that will go into effect Saturday, July 25.

The expansion will require face coverings in all common spaces, such as elevators, hallways and shared spaces in apartment buildings, university housing and hotels, as well as congregate setting such as nursing homes.

“We’re losing the momentum we had during the early months of this response,” Wiesman said. “Looking ahead to the fall and hopes of schools reopening, we must dig back in to regain control. Fewer, shorter, and safer interactions are crucial. Staying home is still safest but if you go out, keep it quick, keep your distance from others, and wear your face covering.”

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Eviction moratorium extension

Inslee also announced an extension of the state’s eviction moratorium to Oct. 15. Details on the extension will be released in the coming days.

In addition to the moratorium, the extension also directs Governor’s Office staff to convene an informal work group of landlords and tenants to discuss potential changes to the order in the short-term and long-term as the pandemic progresses, including the prospect of rent increases.

“I know we are all tired of how long this emergency has gone on, and the pain it has inflicted in our households and our communities,” Inslee said. “But we all remain steadfast in our refusal to allow COVID-19 to overwhelm our society, and we will lean on each other to get the job done. This is not the easy thing to do, but it is the right thing to do. 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.”

Read the full story on the governor’s Medium page.

Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136

Tenth (10th) Death Associated with Coronavirus (COVID-19) for Chelan-Douglas Health District

July 21, 2020

EAST WENATCHEE – Chelan-Douglas Health Distict (CDHD) is reporting its 10th COVID-19 associated death. The resident was a female, Douglas County resident in her 50s. This death brings the Health District’s total COVID-19 deaths to ten (10).

For the health of your family, neighbors, and friends, it is more critical than ever to wear a mask when in public. It is a personal decision we all make to socialize outside of our households. We risk infecting others with our choices to interact with people who are not within our close family circle and we may be impacting our most vulnerable residents should we be in close contact. Please mask up when out in public and protect one another.

CDHD would like to remind everyone to stay safe and mask-up. Masking is the next best thing to a vaccine. For more information, visit www.cdhd.wa.gov/covid-19 and follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

Full Press Release:
2020-24 Tenth Death Associated with Coronavirus – English & Spanish

Inslee announces steps to address COVID-19 spread

Steps include smaller gathering size limits and ban on live entertainment

July 16, 2020

As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across the state, Gov. Jay Inslee and Sec. of Health John Wiesman today announced a new limit on social gatherings and a ban on live entertainment across the state.

“The steps are necessary to slow down the spread of COVID-19. The unfortunate truth is that we can’t let our guard down, even as we engage in more activities,” Inslee said during a press conference Thursday. “As we inch closer to the fall, we are already on an unsustainable path in the spread of this virus. We have to change to save lives and to avoid turning the dial back further on the activities we enjoy.”

Under the new Safe Start phase limits, the number of individuals allowed in social gatherings during Phase 3 will be reduced from 50 people to 10 people. Counties in Phase 2 may continue to have social gatherings of up to five people.

The orders go into effect Monday, July 20.

These restrictions apply only to social gatherings, not business operations operating legally under the Safe Start guidance. Funerals, weddings and religious activities are exempt from today’s restrictions.

Some gatherings that may be limited by this change include:

  • Book clubs
  • Barbecues
  • Picnics
  • Parties (birthday parties, house parties, cocktail parties, etc.)
  • Baby showers
  • Social clubs
  • Garage and estate sales
  • Gatherings on beaches and in parks

The announcement comes after the state saw the highest single day increase in cases since the pandemic began back in January. The state Department of Health reported 1,292 new cases Thursday out of the 19,381 cumulative cases statewide.

The seven day rolling average of new cases per day, from June 26 to July 2, was 629 cases per day. This is also the highest since the pandemic began.

Local health jurisdictions are also beginning to see what they believe as the first signs of an uptick in cases caused by Fourth of July celebrations.

Recent evidence suggests that the virus is most easily and commonly spread through face-to-face interactions, such as gatherings in the home, at social gatherings and in work settings.

“How individuals respond to this crisis will determine what happens to all of us combined. Masking and social distancing — in tandem — are the best defenses against this virus,” Inslee said.

“The numbers that we are seeing reflect the interdependence we have on one another,” Wiesman said. “Everything that we do as individuals impacts our ability to move forward as a state. We can’t go safely forward until we all do our part.”

The governor noted that if Washingtonians continue failing to adhere to mask-wearing and social distancing, today’s announcement may be a forerunner to more rollbacks.

Additionally, the governor and secretary announced a prohibition on all live entertainment, indoor or outdoor, statewide. This includes drive-in concerts, comedy clubs and music in restaurants.

“We don’t have a vaccine, but we do have each other,” Inslee said. “I want people to be healthy and able to live their lives. We can accomplish some of those things, if we as individuals reckon with the existential crisis of COVID-19.”

Read the full News Release on the Governor’s website.

Inslee extends Safe Start proclamation, issues facial coverings guidance

July 7, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee announced the extension of the Safe Start proclamation until August 6. 

This extension clarifies the interaction between Safe Start and Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman’s facial coverings order. It includes: 

  • The Yakima County business prohibition is extended statewide: No business may operate, allow a customer to enter a business, or conduct in-person business with a customer in any public setting unless the customer is wearing a face covering (as required, and with the exceptions outlined, in Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03;
  • Individuals are prohibited from entering a place of business without wearing a face covering (again, per Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03); and
  • Employers must notify the employer’s local health jurisdiction within 24 hours if the employer suspects COVID-19 is spreading in the employer’s workplace, or if the employer is aware of 2 or more employees who develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within a 14-day period.

The governor also announced additional clarification today for restaurant and taverns in Phases 2 and 3. This comes as more counties move forward under Washington’s Safe Start recovery plan

Under this guidance, bar-style seating and live music are hereby prohibited in Phase 2 and Phase 3. 

Additionally, restaurants and taverns in Phase 2 or beyond are now permitted to resume self-service buffets, salad bars, salsa bars, and other similar communal food sources and drink stations, subject to business adherence to safety standards.

Find the full memo here.

Find the full guidance here. 

Full list of current reopening guidance.


CHELAN-DOUGLAS HEALTH DISTRICT (CDHD) STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF “MASKING-UP” AS COVID-19 CASES INCREASE SIGNIFICANTLY

Positive cases increase 37% since partial reopening on June 10, 2020

July 2, 2020

EAST WENATCHEE – “Masking up is the next best thing to a vaccine right now,” urges Chelan-Douglas Health Officer Dr. Malcolm Butler. “The Governor’s decision to require everyone to wear a face mask in public, especially when social distancing of 6 feet isn’t possible, was the right call,” Butler added. Chelan-Douglas Counties are seeing a significant up-tick in new COVID-19 positive cases.

In an effort to identify the prevalence of mask-wearing in Chelan and Douglas county retail outlets, CDHD began spot checks to do physical counts of mask-wearing for both retail business employees and customers. The first week of data-gathering revealed:


The data was collected at nine retail stores in Wenatchee and six stores in East Wenatchee. The surveys were done prior to the Governor’s June 26 masking requirement. CDHD will continue to survey businesses throughout the two counties to determine the amount of compliance there is with the masking effort and to pinpoint ways to increase education and outreach efforts about the need for masking when in public.

“It’s the air you share,” Dr. Butler added. “We have got to get a handle on the spread of COVID-19 – not only to be able to move fully into Phase 2 of the State’s Safe Start reopening plan, but also to protect our community.” The Health District is partnering with local elected officials, Chambers of Commerce, law enforcement, the ecumenical community and other organizations to get information out to all sectors of Chelan-Douglas counties and to encourage public masking.

“We have heard concerns expressed that wearing a mask could prevent someone from getting adequate oxygen when they breathe,” states Dr. Butler. “The evidence simply isn’t there. A proper fitting mask that covers both the nose and mouth may seem a bit foreign at first, but it does not block an individual’s ability to breathe during normal activities.” Washington State
Department of Health recognizes that there are a few cases where masking may not be recommended, but they are very limited. For more complete information, please visit this link.

As we go into the Fourth of July holiday weekend when the temptation for group gatherings and a relaxation of COVID-19 safe practices may occur, Dr. Butler reminds us all: Be a protector – not an infector. For more information, visit www.cdhd.wa.gov/covid-19 and follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

Full Press Release:
2020-22 CDHD Stresses Importance of “Masking-Up” – English and Spanish

Inslee extends face covering requirement for businesses statewide and halts county advancements

Benton, Franklin and Yakima will move to a modified Phase 1

July 2, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee and Sec. of Health John Wiesman today announced a statewide requirement for businesses to require face coverings of all employees and customers.

Under this proclamation, businesses may not serve any customer, services or goods, if they do not comply with the state-wide face covering order.

The extension comes in response to growing case counts in counties across the state, and after last week’s proclamation mandating the same requirement of businesses in Yakima County.

“We’re doing this because of a spike in cases of COVID-19 all over the state,” Inslee said. “The better we can protect ourselves from the virus, the better we can avoid repeating some of the painful measures we had to take in the spring to shutdown the economy.”

Read the rest of the story on the governor’s Medium page.

Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136

Inslee and Wiesman announce pause on county progressions to Phase 4

June 27, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee and Sec. John Wiesman announced today the Washington State Department of Health is putting a pause on counties moving to Phase 4 though the “Safe Start” phased approach. Rising cases across the state and concerns about continued spread of the COVID virus have made Phase 4, which would essentially mean no restrictions, impossible at this time. 

Eight counties were eligible to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4 before the pause. 

“Phase 4 would mean a return to normal activity and we can’t do that now due to the continued rise in cases across the state,” Inslee said. “We all want to get back to doing all the things we love in Washington during the summer, and fully open our economy, but we aren’t there yet. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to make decisions based on the data.” 

“The best thing Washingtonians can do to slow the spread of the virus and save lives is to wear facial coverings, continue to maintain physical distancing and good hygiene practices,” Wiesman said. “Now that testing supplies are available, it is critical to get a test if you have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.”

Wiesman sent a letter to local and tribal health leaders throughout the state on Saturday.

The letter states:

“Dear Local and Tribal Health Leaders,

“I am writing to let you know Governor Inslee and I have decided to pause progression to Phase 4 statewide. 

“We decided to prohibit any counties from moving into phase 4 at this time due to increasing COVID-19 activity across the state and significant rebounds in COVID-19 activity in several other states. The changes between Phase 3 and Phase 4, especially with regards to gathering size and occupancy rates, could further increase the spread of COVID-19 in our state, even in communities that have very low rates of disease. The progress we’ve made thus far is at risk, therefore we are making the prudent choice to slow down our phased approach to reopening.

“In the next couple of weeks, I will work with Governor Inslee and his team to assess the need for a modified approach for moving beyond Phase 3. I will communicate that decision to you when we have more information. Counties that are currently able to apply to move from Phase 1 or 2 are still able to apply when eligible.

“Thank you for your continued work to protect the health of Washingtonians during this unprecedented time.”

To read the full News Release on the Governor’s website.

Governor’s office public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Governor’s office press inquiries | 360.902.4136
Jessica Baggett, Dept. of Health | 360.789.0058 

North Central Washington Law Enforcement Leadership Group Press Release

Press Release:
6/24/2020
In response to many inquiries on the Governor’s recent proclamation regarding face coverings, we want to communicate we will continue to focus on crimes and criminals which impact public safety. The statewide face covering order is a public health and safety measure, it is not a mandate for local law enforcement response. We encourage our community to take the necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of all.

Inslee announces statewide mask mandate

June 23, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman today announced a statewide mandatory face covering order that will take effect Friday, June 26.

The order comes after a Saturday announcement of a mandatory mask proclamation for Yakima County starting this week. The order was in response to reports of increasing case counts and a potential overwhelming of the county’s health care system. 

After subsequent reports of cases increasing in additional counties, the governor and Wiesman extended the face covering requirement today to include the entire state of Washington.

“As necessary economic activity increases and more people are out in their communities, it is imperative that we adopt further measures to protect all of us,” Inslee said during a press conference Tuesday. “Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is going to be one of our best defenses.” 

Starting Friday, every Washingtonian must wear a facial covering when in a public space, as mandated by the public health order signed by Wiesman. This includes both indoor and outdoor public spaces. 

“The science is clear that when we use face coverings, we limit the spread of droplets being passed on to others when we talk, cough or sneeze. While some of us are wearing face coverings in public, we must increase usage to best control the virus. Washington’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if, together, we act safely and follow health recommendations,” Wiesman said.

Read the full story on the governor’s Medium page