Coronavirus forces additional closures

Governor limits bar, restaurant operations

Following Gov. Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine’s orders, the city of Seattle is pursuing further measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

After ordering the state’s schools to close earlier in the week, on Sunday, Inslee issued a proclamation stating bars, restaurants and recreation and entertainment venues would be temporarily shut down and limited all public gatherings to 50 people beginning Monday.

At the same time, Constantine issued similar orders, which also took effect Monday, also prohibiting all gatherings of fewer than 50 participants unless “previously announced criteria for hygiene and social distancing are met,” according to the press release.

In addition, the local health order states restaurants, bars, dance halls, clubs, health and fitness clubs, theaters and “other similar social or recreational venues” must stop operating until March 31.

Restaurants and food service establishments, however, are allowed to remain open as long as they only operate drive-through, delivery and pick-up services, until March 31.

Groceries, pharmacies, banks, gas stations, hardware stores, shopping centers and other retail may remain open if they meet established public heath directives.

According to the press release, the county is now preparing for “potentially rapid and widespread infection.”

In his press release, Constantine said people must assume everyone is infected with COVID-19 and avoid unnecessary interactions.

“Go to work if you must, but hunker down if you are able,” Constantine said. “Postpone anything you can. Treat the next two weeks as a period of self quarantine, to protect yourself and the lives and health of your loved ones and the entire community.”

According to a press release from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, the city will continue to consult with health officials to see if additional citywide restricted are needed.

These additional measures targeting the spread of COVID-19 reflect a recent study by the Institute for Disease Modeling that indicated, without further actions, the Puget Sound area could have as many as 25,000 cases of COVID-19 and 400 deaths.

“We have been working together to take steps throughout our region,” Durkan said in the press release. “We have very limited time to slow the trajectory of the virus, and hundreds of lives depend on our actions now. We must protect our most vulnerable and ensure our health care system can continue serving children, families and individuals, not just for COVID, but for any emergency. I know these restrictions are hard and impact the livelihoods and ways of life of our families, but it’s the right thing to do for the long-term health, safety and vitality of our communities. These actions reflect the growing scientific consensus that if we don’t significantly increase mitigation efforts and prioritize true social distancing, the consequences for our region could be devastating.”

Durkan acknowledged that Seattle’s small businesses, workers and community organizations have already been negatively impacted. To that end, the city is trying to help people by employing different initiatives.

According to the press release, the city of Seattle has implemented different programs to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

• Providing immediate financial relief through deferred Business and Occupancy and utility payment plans;

• Investing $1.5 million in small businesses financially impacted by the pandemic;

• Launching a COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Task Force to make sure policy solutions are responsive to community needs;

• Preparing to provide direct technical assistance to small businesses applying for federal Small Business Administration loans as soon as they are available;

• A temporary moratorium on residential evictions to prevent working people from losing their homes.

According to a city press release, “the moratorium suspends residential evictions related to non-payment or partial payment of rent for 30 days and prohibits late fees or other charges for late payment of rent.” Property owners may not issue “pay or vacate notices” during this period or file eviction action with courts. Action on existing pay or vacate notices cannot be taken, as well. For more information about the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, go to