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Gov. Inslee lays out plan to close Washington restaurants, bars

Gov. Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine provided details on the state’s plan to temporarily close all restaurants, bars, and recreational facilities in Washington state.

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“Never since World War II have we faced a situation like this,” said Inslee.

Restaurants will still be able to provide takeout, drive-thru, and delivery service. Food service on college campuses will also continue to operate, but only in a takeout capacity — dining halls will close, with students being directed to eat in their rooms.

Additionally, all gatherings over 50 people will be prohibited, while gatherings under 50 people will need to meet strict criteria for hygiene and social distancing.

These closures also apply to: Coffee shops, doughnut shops, salons, barbers, tattoo parlors, movie theaters, performance theaters, bowling alleys, gyms, museums, art galleries, and youth sports among other activities.

These new rules will not apply to grocery stores or pharmacies. Essential retail outlets like hardware stores, convenience stores, gas stations, banks, and shopping centers can also remain open, provided they enforce reduced occupancy.

Retail locations that remain open must also designate a social distancing officer among employees to ensure guidelines are being met.

“All of us have to recognize for the next several weeks, normal is not in our game plan,” said Gov. Inslee. “In the days to come, we will do everything we can to minimize and mitigate these challenges. We are doing this for a simple reason: To save lives of our loved ones in Washington.”

Health officials estimate that without proper social distancing measures, coronavirus infections in Washington would double every five to seven days.

“This is the only weapon available to us right now,” Inslee noted.

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“The unprecedented health threat that COVID-19 presents requires unprecedented action,” said Seattle-King County Health’s Jeff Duchin in Monday’s press conference.

Any restaurants, bars, or recreational facilities violating this order will be subject to legal action. That said, Inslee stated a desire to have people follow the new guidelines out of a feeling of duty.

“We need to rely on our love for each other much more than our fear of the law at this moment,” he said.

On the delivery side, GrubHub is opting to defer its commission fees for “impacted independent restaurants.” The popular food delivery service hopes the measure will provide relief for restaurants struggling to stay afloat as these measures take effect.

Inslee also urged Washington residents over 70 years old to self-isolate immediately, as the demographic most at risk of severe infection from coronavirus.

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