WA Gov. Jay Inslee to reinstate COVID-19 restrictions | Crosscut

The new restrictions, which were revealed in a memo from the Washington Food Industry Association, also restrict grocery store capacity to 25%, a limit that was not seen in the previous stay-home orders issued in March. 

Inslee is expected to announce the new restrictions at a press conference Sunday morning. 

Outdoor service at restaurants and bars will also be curtailed; it will be limited to five people, according to the industry association's memo. 

The 25% occupancy limit for retail stores will apply to all types of retail businesses, including grocery stores and convenience stores. Employees won’t be part of the calculation. 

The new rules come after Inslee held a press conference earlier this week urging Washingtonians to stay home for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday to prevent further spread of the virus. On Thursday, Inslee joined the governors of Oregon and California in issuing a travel advisory recommending that anyone traveling across state lines quarantine for 14 days.

These travel recommendations are also more strict and specific than the original stay-home order from last spring.

“COVID-19 cases have doubled in Washington over the past two weeks,” Inslee said in a press release Thursday. “This puts our state in as dangerous a position today as we were in March. Limiting and reducing travel is one way to reduce further spread of the disease.” 

In March, after the first cases of coronavirus in the United States were identified in Washington state, Inslee also put many private businesses in the state on hold, from construction companies to dental offices. That work has slowly reopened over the spring and summer. It was not immediately known how far this new round of restrictions will go.

The Washington State Department of Health on Friday reported 2,147 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily case count since the pandemic began. Health officials noted that two weeks earlier they announced 1,000 cases in one day, evidence of the rapid spread of the pandemic in Washington state.

Also on Sunday, Inslee is expected to announce new guidance surrounding mask-wearing, according to the memo sent to members of the Washington Food Industry Association.

Tara Lee, a spokesperson for Inslee, didn't provide more detail in an email Saturday night.

"...I am not disputing it but more information will be coming tomorrow," Lee wrote.

This post was updated to add a response from Gov. Inslee's office. 

Crosscut Audience Engagement Manager Anne Christnovich contributed to this report.