Gov. Jay Inslee will announce sweeping new restrictions Sunday to curb surging COVID-19 cases, including a ban on indoor social gatherings and indoor service at restaurants and bars, and sharp occupancy limits for retailers, according to industry officials briefed by the governor’s staff.
“The governor’s office is looking at some possible restrictions so we can get the COVID cases down again,” Tammie Hetrick, President & CEO of Washington Food Industry Association told The Seattle Times on Saturday afternoon. Hetrick said that earlier Saturday, the governor’s staff had provided the association with preliminary outlines of the restrictions, which were to be announced Sunday morning.
Inslee is set to announce his plans in a Sunday morning news conference, wrote spokesperson Mike Faulk in an email, “and he’ll detail what he has planned at that time.”
In an email, Inslee spokesperson Tara Lee did not dispute the details circulated by industry associations about the four-week order effective Monday with restrictions on grocers, retailers and restaurants, as well as indoor social gatherings.
But that information does not give a full picture of the governor’s expected announcement, according to Lee.
“We are not disputing the details and will provide more information on Sunday,” she wrote.
In an email to WFIA members and obtained by The Seattle Times, Hetrick said the governor’s staff had indicated Inslee was considering four main steps.
These included a prohibition on all indoor social gatherings and a ban on all indoor service at bars and restaurants. Outdoor service would be restricted to five people, but takeout service will be allowed to continue. Under current restrictions, bars and restaurants can operate at 50% of capacity.
The new restrictions would also limit retailers, including grocery and convenience stores, to 25% of occupancy, would ban any indoor seating and require that delis and salad bar products be sold to go, Hetrick’s email indicated.
Hetrick’s email also said that Inslee “will also be updating guidance on mask restrictions, which will clearly indicate that stores and other customer-facing businesses will have a choice to restrict all non-mask wearers in the store and provide other options for providing food and other essential products.”