Gov. Jay Inlsee’s state-wide “Stay Home” order goes into effect for non-essential businesses today.
This order is an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 as the death toll rises to more than 500 in the U.S. and 100 in Washington.
Washingtonians who do not work in essential services are asked to stay home for a minimum of two weeks, only leaving the house to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy or to the doctor.
“This is a human tragedy on a scale we cannot yet project,” Inslee said March 23.
Those who have the ability to work from home are encouraged to continue to do so. Any gatherings, be they religious or social, are forbidden, including weddings and funerals.
Those who work in the healthcare industry, media, local governments, infrastructure and emergency services are exempt and considered essential services. More information about essential services can be found at coronavirus.wa.gov.
This does not mean people cannot go outside, Inslee said. He encourages people to seek physical activity and enjoyment outdoors by gardening, biking or going for a walk, but to maintain a 6-foot distance from other people.
Willful violation of this order is illegal and will be enforced according to a press release from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, but deputies will not be conducting random compliance checks.
Inslee said this does not affect restaurants that may continue to provide takeout service.
“The fastest way to get back to normal is to hit this hard,” he said. “The more of us who stay home, the fewer of us will be infected with COVID-19.”
Inslee also urged people not to go out and buy large amounts of groceries as it will further exacerbate the supply problem for those in need. If everyone continues to buy groceries as normal the shelves will not be empty.
“This is temporary,” Inslee said. “Schools will reopen, weddings will happen, factories will start again; and you can toast the end of this at your favorite hangout. But every single Washingtonian must enlist themselves in this tumultuous struggle.”