Inslee Orders New Round of Business Restrictions

Date: November 16, 2020

Limitations took effect 11:59 p.m. Monday, November 16

Seeking to address skyrocketing rates of COVID-19 infections, Gov. Jay Inslee is again clamping down on a wide range of business activities. The Governor’s revised Proclamation can be read here.

Beginning at 11:59 p.m. Monday, November 16, the following apply:

  • Retail – In-store capacity is limited to 25% occupancy; all seating and indoor dining areas, such as food courts, must close.
  • Professional services – Employees must be allowed to work from home, and offices closed to the public “if possible;” offices that must remain open are limited to 25% occupancy.
  • Personal services – Indoor services are limited to 25% capacity; this includes cosmetologists, hairstylists, barbers, estheticians, manicurists, tanning salons, tattoo artists, and others.
  • Business conferences, seminars, trade shows – Such activities are generally prohibited; professional training and testing that cannot be performed remotely might be allowed if attendance is limited to 25% indoor capacity, or 100 people, whichever is fewer (see Miscellaneous Venue requirements).
  • Real Estate – Open houses are not permitted.
  • Gyms and fitness centers – Closed for indoor services, but outdoor classes of up to five people from different households are permitted.
  • Movie theaters – Closed for indoor services; drive-in movies are permitted.
  • Bowling centers, museums, zoos, and aquariums – All are closed for indoor service.

Restaurants and bars will be closed for indoor service beginning at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, November 18. To-go service is still permitted. Outdoor dining will be permitted, but limited to tables of five or fewer patrons, and must follow specific Outdoor Dining Guidance available here.

In addition, Governor Inslee is also imposing limits on both indoor and outdoor social gatherings, including those in private homes, as well as weddings, funerals, religious services, and sporting activities. See the Proclamation link above for details.

Business assistance. The governor also announced he intends to make $50 million of federal CARES Act funds available in the wake of this latest round of restrictions. Details were not released, but the Governor indicated these funds would be split between grants and loans to businesses.

This latest round of restrictions is set to expire at 11:59 p.m., Monday, Dec.14, 2020, unless otherwise extended.

NFIB expressed its objections to the governor’s office about this latest round of restrictions. Washington State Director Patrick Connor wrote, in part:

“As you might imagine, small-business owners are justifiably concerned about the latest expansion and extension of the Governor’s COVID-19 Proclamation. Small businesses continue to disproportionately bear the brunt of these edicts. Worse still, there appears to be scant evidence, if any, that small businesses are responsible for spikes in the contagion rate. Quips about ‘the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’ fall very short indeed of the Governor’s own claims of following the ‘science’ when making decisions impacting the lives and livelihoods of millions of Washingtonians.

“Small business can and should be part of the solution to reducing infection rates while ensuring Washington residents have access to the goods and services they require. Doubling down on restrictions that drive consumers into big-box retailers and chain restaurants will only prolong the pandemic.

“I urge the Governor to reconsider this approach.”

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