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Governor Inslee Issues COVID-19 Proclamation

King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties are under state-of-emergency restrictions until March 31, 2020.

In response to the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has issued a several 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 gatherings related to social, spiritual, and recreational activities in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties until midnight of March 31, 2020.

Specifically, the Proclamation temporarily bans “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 largely affects community and private gathering, as well as organized religious institutions (such as churches, synagogues, and mosques). As written, Proclamation 20-07 is also likely to affect any business where 250 or more people are gathered in one place. In addition to other precautions advised at this time, business owners should evaluate whether their operations involve gatherings of 250 or more people (including staff), taking action to reduce the number of people gathered.

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 to remain informed.

(Updated as of 03-12-2020)