A roadside pickup sign will be displayed outside the Cascadia Grill in downtown Olympia, Washington on November 15. Ted S. Warren / AP
Washington state announced new coronavirus restrictions on Sunday, months after suffering the country’s first major outbreaks.
“We are in a more dangerous position today than we were in March when our first stay at home was issued,” Governor Jay Inslee said at a press conference. Most of the measures go into effect on Monday at midnight and extend through December 14th.
“It is time to reintroduce some of the statewide restrictions on activity to preserve our well-being and save lives,” he said.
What the restrictions mean: Indoor social gatherings with people from outside the home are prohibited unless the participants are quarantined 14 days or seven days before the meeting and receive a negative Covid-19 test result at least 48 hours in advance. Outdoor gatherings are limited to five people.
Restaurants and bars will be restricted to outdoor areas with capacity restrictions and take-away service, Inslee said. In-store retail stores, including grocery stores, are limited to 25% capacity.
The service will also be capped at 25% of indoor capacity or 200 people, whichever is lower, Inslee said. Performances by choirs, bands and ensembles are also prohibited. The order allows solo performances, but Inslee said it was “too risky” for indoor choirs.
In addition, indoor service in fitness studios as well as in bowling alleys, museums and cinemas is prohibited for companies, among others.
The new restrictions won’t affect childcare and K-12 schools, Inslee said. School districts currently teaching face-to-face will not need to close unless local officials make that decision.
Ascending cases: The new restrictions reflect the dramatic increase in cases seen not just in Washington state but across the country. And they further underline the danger of a prolonged fall, which many states find it difficult to control.
According to the Johns Hopkins University, the state had more than 130,000 cases as of Sunday evening. More than 2,500 people have died.