As of March 25, 2020 Governor Jay Inslee has ordered all nonessential businesses to close and the state’s more than 7 million residents to stay home unless necessary in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. His order is effective through April 6, 2020 and is subject to extension. There is a long list of “essential” businesses, but other than those, his order is in effect Wednesday 3/25/20 at curfew. The curfew time is yet to be determined. (See RCW 43.06.220)
So What Does This Exactly Mean?
People are required to stay home unless they are pursuing an essential activity like shopping for groceries, going to a doctor’s appointment or going to work at an essential business.
While taking a walk, and maintaining the 6-foot rule from co-walkers, is fine, the King County Search and Rescue is asking people to avoid hiking, saving their personnel from having to respond to any emergency when they can be of service elsewhere.
Violation of the governor’s order is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. Although law enforcement is not being asked to actively enforce the stay-at-home order, in Edmonds, where there is a stay-at-home already in effect, it is a misdemeanor to defy the directive. According to Edmonds Police Sergeant Josh McClure, those “rare, rare times where there is lack of voluntary compliance that puts the community at risk, the police will issue a fine up to $500 and 90 days in jail as a maximum penalty.”
Governor Inslee stated:
“Now, we expect everyone in our state to comply with these orders voluntarily,” he said. “For the simple fact … everyone knows that all of our loved ones are at risk here. But make no mistake — this order is enforceable by law and can be enforced.”
Essential businesses are issuing Critical Industry Employee Authorization to Travel Regardless of the Time of Day to all personnel that qualify. If you are travelling out of your home, especially after curfew, police may ask to see your authorization.
A partial but extensive list of Essential businesses and workers are:
Grocery stores and all those in the food supply chain, pharmacies, gas stations, hospitals and health care providers – including veterinary workers, banks, blood and plasma donors and businesses that service them, workers at health plan billings, social services, workers in funeral homes and cemeteries, first responders for fire and police, food manufacturers and food packaging, farm workers, field crop workers, government workers who handle assistance programs and government payouts, cannabis shop workers, animal agriculture workers, oil and gas distributors, electrical workers, zoo workers, pet food supply stores, workers in car rental companies, Unions and worker advocacy organizations, workers who provide consumer access to banks, lenders and ATM’s to move currency, many repair services such as for heating and cooling and refrigeration, laundromats and laundry services, workers that provide services to maintain health and sanitation, hotel workers, commercial retain stores that supply essential sectors, hardware stores, garden stores, convenience store workers, and office supply stores.
Part of the Governor’s new law forbids gatherings of 250 people for events such as weddings, funerals (although funeral homes remain open), and religious gatherings, concerts, fundraisers, and sporting events.