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Rantz: Gov. Inslee orders all Washington restaurants and bars to close

Governors in Illinois, Ohio, and California have announced restaurants and bars must close down to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Washington has just followed suit with a temporary ban effective Monday.

Neither grocery stores nor pharmacies are impacted. Restaurants will still be allowed to offer take-out and delivery services. Further, movie theaters and gyms have been ordered temporarily closed.

The country’s chief medical expert on coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, expressed his discontent that people were still going to restaurants and bars during the crisis.

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“I would like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction we see in restaurants and in bars,” Fauci said on CNN. “Whatever it takes to do that, that’s what I would like to see.”

Now, we’re seeing closures.

Coronavirus prompts Washington to close restaurants.

Governor Jay Inslee announced via a statement announcing closures and a new ban on gatherings over 50 people:

“Given the explosion of COVID-19 in our state and globally, I will sign a statewide emergency proclamation tomorrow to temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities.

“Restaurants will be allowed to provide take-out and delivery services but no in-person dining will be permitted.

“The ban will not apply to grocery stores and pharmacies. Other retail outlets will have reduced occupancy.

“Additionally, all gatherings with over 50 participants are prohibited and all gatherings under 50 participants are prohibited unless previously announced criteria for public health and social distancing are met.

“These are very difficult decisions, but hours count here and very strong measures are necessary to slow the spread of the virus. I know there will be significant economic impacts to all our communities and we are looking at steps to help address those challenges.

“Tonight, after consultations with me and with the Department of Health, King County announced that they will be taking these actions immediately. King County has been the hotbed of this outbreak and has the largest population center in the state. I have spoken to Executive Dow Constantine and I applaud their decision to act quickly. We will do a joint media announcement with more details tomorrow morning.”

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Many restaurants, particularly in Downtown Seattle and South Lake Union, have already been hard hit. As Amazon’s workforce telecommutes, restaurants and bars have been mostly empty. Many have altered their opening times and some have shuttered completely for at least eight weeks.

Coronavirus closes gyms and movie theaters, too.

In a press release by King County Executive Dow Constantine, the temporary closure includes: dance halls, clubs, theaters, health and fitness clubs, and other similar indoor social or recreational venues must cease operations until March 31, 2020.

Per Constantine:

To limit the spread of COVID-19, King County Executive Constantine and Dr. Duchin announced a new Local Health Order that directed public health actions effective Monday, March 16.

  • All gatherings with more than 50 participants are prohibited until further notice.
  • All gatherings of 50 participants and below are prohibited until further notice unless previously announced criteria for hygiene and social distancing are met.
  • Restaurants, bars, dance halls, clubs, theaters, health and fitness clubs, and other similar indoor social or recreational venues must cease operations until March 31, 2020.
  • Restaurants and food service establishments may remain open only for drive-through, delivery, and pick-up only, until March 31, 2020.
  • All other retail such as groceries, pharmacies, banks, gas stations, hardware stores, shopping centers, etc. may remain open provided they meet Public Health directives in the previous Local Health Order

The Local Health Order was drafted in coordination with state health officials.

Gov. Inslee and Executive Constantine are scheduling a media availability for March 16 to discuss more about what King County is doing, and the Governor will explain statewide actions. Details to come.

“We are at a critical moment in this crisis. We are leaving the phase of COVID-19 outbreaks in concentrated areas of the county, and entering the phase of potentially rapid and widespread infection,” said Executive Constantine.

“It is time, right now, for people to assume that they and everyone they meet is infected, to avoid any unnecessary interactions that might lead to further infection, and to wait and monitor to see if they have in fact been infected so that they can isolate and recover without presenting a risk to others.

“Go to work if you must. But hunker down if you are able. 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.”


Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Sunday that restaurants and bars must close down until at least the end of March. There would be exceptions for carry-out and deliveries.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and California Governor Gavin Newsom followed up with a similar directive.

These closures come not just after Fauci’s comments, but a weekend of people going out to bars and restaurants, in part, to help an industry uniquely hit by the coronavirus. But in doing so, they ended up potentially accelerating the spread of the virus.

A related update.

Though it does not apply to restaurants, the CDC just released guidance recommending against social gatherings beyond 50+ people.

New York Update.

Per NBC News:

New York City announced Sunday that it will close public schools Monday and states and cities are ordering bars and restaurants to close to encourage social distancing to try to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus as U.S. cases climbed well past 3,000.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter.

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