Gov. Inslee announces new statewide restrictions on dining, gatherings as COVID-19 cases surge

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Governor Jay Inslee has placed new restrictions on gatherings, dining, retail services and more in what he says is an effort to slow a “rapid and alarming” rise of COVID-19 cases in the state. 

Beginning Monday at midnight, bars and restaurants will no longer be allowed to offer indoor seating. Outdoor seating will be allowed as long as proper safety protocols are followed. That means tables will be limited to no more than five people at a time. Customers can still order to-go, Inslee says. 

The guidance also bans people from gathering inside with anyone they don’t live with. If you do want to spend time with people outside your household, it will need to be in an outdoor setting, Inslee says. 

The restrictions prohibit gyms from offering indoor services and say outdoor fitness classes can continue, as long as they don’t exceed five people in a group. 

Entertainment venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, museums and zoos will all be banned from offering indoor service, though drive-in theaters will still be allowed to operate. 

All in-store retail will be limited to 25% capacity, and lingering in seated areas is off-limits. 

Inslee says the new guidance does not apply to education, including K-12 instruction and higher educational settings.  

The newly announced restrictions are a hit to many businesses, already struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. In a recent interview with 4 News Now, the Washington Housing Association said it fears roughly 100,000 people will lose their jobs ahead of the holidays if more restrictions are added.  

READ: Washington Hospitality Assoc. fears 100,000 people will lose their jobs if further statewide restrictions take effect

That’s not including the many businesses that have already been forced to shutter during the pandemic. 

“We recognize this will cause financial hardship for many businesses and the governor and staff are exploring ways to mitigate the impacts,” it reads in a release from the governor’s office. 

Inslee says average weekly COVID-19 cases have doubled in the last two weeks. On Friday, he issued a travel advisory, adding it’s “just too dangerous” for people to be gathering for the holidays this year. If you do plan on visiting loved ones, health officials have asked that you quarantine two weeks in advance. For Thanksgiving, that process would have started last Thursday. 

The lockdown will be in place for four weeks, ending December 14.

READ: ‘It’s just too dangerous’: Gov. Inslee pleads with Washingtonians to avoid large gatherings this Thanksgiving