Washington Governor Jay Inslee today announced a strict “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Noting that the disease, caused by a novel coronavirus, has already taken the lives of more than 100 Washington residents in just two months, Inslee said it is time for all Washingtonians to “hunker down in order to win this fight.”
The new order builds on Inslee’s earlier efforts to stop the virus from spreading throughout the state and will restrict businesses deemed “non-essential” as well as any social gatherings, including weddings and funerals.
“We must stay home in order to fight this virus,” Inslee said in an announcement made this evening. “Life will go on for all of us in every part of Washington, but we must stay home and stay healthy. The less time you spend out in public, the more lives we can save and the more time we can buy to fight the waves of this virus coming down on us now and in the immediate future.”
Inslee said he had been “thoughtful and deliberate” in his earlier decisions to close schools for six weeks, shutter entertainment and restaurant/bar venues where people tend to congregate and in asking people to practice social-distancing guidelines when they were out in public by standing no less than 6 feet from each other, but said he has heard from many that some people are still not practicing these precautions.
“These measures are more stringent,” Inslee said of the new order. “The goal is to reduce social interactions, physical interactions, where this highly contagious virus can spread. Distancing ourselves is the only weapon against this virus.”
The new order requires Washingtonians to minimize contact with each other for at least two weeks, beginning Wednesday evening.
“Forty-eight hours from now, (we will) close all businesses in the state except those deemed essential or those where workers can work from home,” Inslee said. “Essential businesses, those that help us fight this outbreak, are not limited (and include) emergency services, critical manufacturing, childcare, food and agriculture, transportation, financial services and defense industries.”
”And media will continue to operate, too,” Inslee added. “Media have been absolutely critical to keeping us informed during this crisis.”
The new order does not prohibit restaurants from continuing to serve to-go or delivery orders, Inslee said.
The governor added that he expects everyone in Washington to obey the order voluntarily “because everyone knows that all of our loved ones are at risk here,” but said the order can be enforced, if necessary.
Washington, Inslee added, is “in a race against time” and needs to grow hospital capacity or risk an even bigger emergency.
“We do not want this lingering intrusion in our lives,” Inslee said. “The fastest way to get back to normal is to hit this hard.”
The governor added that residents should not make a run on grocery stores to stock up.
“If each of us maintain our normal shopping habits, there’s really not going to be any empty shelves. We feel good about this.”
Inslee’s announcement follows a similar order from Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued this morning, which also temporarily closes most non-essential businesses throughout the state.
For more information about Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, visit coronavirus.wa.gov.