State of Emergency Restrictions on Activities in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties in Effect Until March 31, 2020.
In response to the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, Washington State’s governor, Jay Inslee has issued a number of previous Proclamations: 20-05 (02-29-2020) (Declaring a State of Emergency), and 20-06 (03-10-2020)(Limiting Activities in the operation of Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities).
Today, the governor issued Proclamation 20-07, which restricts in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties activities related to social, spiritual, and recreational gatherings until midnight of March 31, 2020.
Specifically, the following is restricted:
“Gatherings of 250 or more for social, spiritual and recreational activities, including but not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers; and similar activities.”
The language of the proclamation clearly effects community and private events; but also, would affect religious institutions (i.e. churches, synagogues, or mosques, etc.) As written, Proclamation 20-07 also appears to affect any business where 250 or more person are gathered in one place. In addition to other precautions advised at this time, business owners should evaluate whether or not their operations ore activities involve 250 or more persons (including staff) at any given moment; and to take action to reduce the number of persons present.
Violation of this proclamation is subject to criminal penalties under RCW 43.06.220(5) (i.e. gross misdemeanor). Our firm will be monitoring developments, which are likely to change over the days and weeks.
At the same time that the State of Washington issued this proclamation, King County, Pierce County, and Snohomish County issued parallel local Health Officer Orders.
For King County, additional prohibitions were added on gatherings of “fewer than 250” people unless event organizers take measures to minimize risks; “an ‘event’ is defined as any public gathering for business, social, or recreational activities.” The Health Officer Orders in Snohomish County and King County are nearly identical, except that the Snohomish County ban extends to “spiritual” activities, which would include religious organizations. Those steps include:
- Older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions that are at increased risk of COVID-19 are encouraged not to attend (including employees).
- Social distancing recommendations must be met (i.e. limit contact of people within 6 feed from each other for 10 minutes or longer).
- Employees must be screened for coronavirus symptoms each day and excluded if symptomatic.
- Proper hand hygiene and sanitation must be readily available to all attendees and employees.
- Environmental cleaning guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are followed (e.g. clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily or more frequently).
Retail businesses such as grocery stores, drug stores, movie theaters, restaurants, other retail establishments may continue to provide services as long as they take steps to minimize the threat of the disease. Additional information and guidance is pending.
Our advice to clients is to take reasonable steps based on available guidance and remain informed.
(Updated as of 03-12-2020)