OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday ordered Washington residents to stay at home for the next two weeks in an unprecedented attempt to blunt the spread of COVID-19.
The proclamation signed by Inslee aims to aggressively curb movement and interaction of residents by shutting down businesses deemed non-essential and banning public and private gatherings of people, including weddings, funerals and celebrations of life.
“It’s time to hunker down in order to win this fight,” Inslee said in an address to the state.
The order took effect Monday, though provisions for business closures go into force Wednesday.
But it is not a “shelter-in-place” mandate. Residents are allowed to go outside, and essential businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies will remain open. Inslee’s office released a 14-page list of workers whose jobs are considered “essential” and critical. They cover a range of sectors, from health care to defense, public works to the news media.
Also, while eating and drinking on-site is still banned, restaurants and bars may continue to offer take-out and drive-thru food options.
Inslee warned those who don’t heed the order.
“Make no mistake this order is enforceable by law,” he said.
Monday’s directive is another in a continuum of actions undertaken by Inslee in response to the worsening situation.
The number of confirmed infections and deaths in Washington rose sharply again Monday. According to the state Department of Health, there have been 2,221 documented coronavirus cases so far, including 110 deaths. Snohomish County has seen 519 cases and 11 fatalities, according to the Snohomish Health District.
Prior to Monday, Inslee had ordered the closing of schools, entertainment venues and other businesses where people congregate, such as fitness centers and churches.
His new directive is similar to orders in effect in California, Oregon and other states.
Inslee announced the much-anticipated action in a televised address from his office at the Capitol.
The announcement came hours after the Boeing Co., one of Washington’s largest private employers and a major piston of the economy, announced it is shutting down operations in Everett and the rest of the state to protect workers, starting Wednesday. That corporate decision followed the death of an Everett worker from COVID-19.
“Now is a time for bold actions like these, and we will continue to look at what can be done statewide,” Inslee said in a news release about the company’s action.
Until Monday, Inslee had resisted issuing a statewide stay-home order as a means to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus, even though Washington has been one of the nation’s epicenters.
Others in the state didn’t wait. The mayors of Everett, Edmonds and Lake Stevens each issued stay-at-home orders for their cities that took effect Monday.
Washington joins a growing number of states trying to be more aggressive in curbing unnecessary movement of residents.
In recent days, California and New York — two other hot spots — imposed such restrictions. They, like Washington, have all received federal disaster declarations. On Monday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown imposed a stay-home order in her state.
Herald writer Zacharian Bryan contributed to this report
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.