Washington state on Sunday announced new coronavirus restrictions, months after suffering the country’s first major outbreaks.
“We are today in a more dangerous position than we were in March, when our first stay-at-home order was issued,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news conference. Most of the measures go into effect Monday at midnight and extend through December 14.
“The time has come to reinstate some of the restrictions on activities statewide to preserve our well-being and to save lives,” he said.
What the restrictions mean: Indoor social gatherings with people from outside the home are prohibited, unless participants quarantine for 14 days prior, or quarantine for seven days before the gathering and receive a negative Covid-19 test result no more than 48 hours prior. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to five people.
Restaurants and bars will be limited to outdoors with capacity limits and to-go service, Inslee said. In-store retail stores, including grocery stores, are limited to 25% capacity.
Religious services will also be limited to 25% of indoor capacity or 200 people, whichever is less, Inslee said. Performances by choirs, bands and ensembles are also prohibited. The order allows for solo performances, but Inslee said it’s “too risky” for indoor choirs.
Additionally, indoor service at gyms will be prohibited, along with bowling alleys, museums and movie theaters, among others businesses.
The new restrictions will not impact childcare and K-12 schools, Inslee said. School districts that are currently holding in-person learning do not need to close, unless local officials make that determination.
Rising cases: The new restrictions are a reflection of the drastic rise in cases seen not only in Washington state but across the country. And they further underscore the threat of the ongoing fall surge many states are struggling to control.
As of Sunday night, the state had more than 130,000 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 2,500 people have died.