Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is again ratcheting up the state’s battle against the coronavirus outbreak, issuing a mandatory stay-at-home order Monday evening, March 23, that requires all nonessential businesses statewide to close within 48 hours for at least the next two weeks, unless employees are able to work remotely.
The order, announced by Inslee in a live TV press conference, also requires all state residents to stay at home, effective immediately, for the next two weeks, unless they are pursuing an essential activity such as going to the doctor or picking up groceries. It also bans all gatherings "for social, spiritual and recreational purposes."
The order is enforceable by law, Inslee said, stressing, however, that the real penalty for failing to adhere to the order “may be the loss of a loved one to COVID-19."
“Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and other essential business will remain open,” Inslee said in a post on Twitter. “Restaurants can continue to offer take-out and delivery service.”
Inslee also stressed that “no one should make a run on the grocery stores to overstock,” adding that maintaining normal shopping patterns will ensure shelves are not emptied.
“You can still go outside, take a walk, ride a bike [or] garden,” Inslee says. “But you must remain six feet away from everyone else.”
This past Monday, March 16, Inslee issued an emergency proclamation that temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and recreational facilities statewide and prohibited all gatherings of more than 50 people as part of a growing dragnet aimed at limiting the deadly reach of the coronavirus. Despite that order, large groups of people continued to frequent parks, playgrounds and other public spaces or otherwise ignored social-distancing guidelines, prompting the more stringent March 23 order.