Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Washington State, US, ease business restrictions in seven counties as of May 12; maintain stay at home order through May 31.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Seattle, Washington
  • Spokane, Washington
  • Bellingham, Washington
  • Wenatchee, Washington
  • Tri-Cities (Kennewick-Pasco-Richland), Washington
  • Everett, Washington
  • Yakima, Washington
  • Walla Walla, Washington
  • Olympia, Washington
  • Oak Harbor, Washington
  • Pullman, Washington
  • Richland, Washington

This alert began 13 May 2020 00:14 GMT and is scheduled to expire 26 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 Restrictions
  • Location(s): Washington State (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 31
  • Impact: Movement restrictions, significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has lifted additional business restrictions in seven counties, which have moved into Phase 2 of the state's reopening, as part of the government's response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of May 12. Counties with less than 75,000 residents can request state authorities to lift additional restrictions within their jurisdictions. Officials have approved such requests in Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens, and Wahkiakum counties. In Phase 2, the following additional activities and businesses are allowed:

  • Gatherings of up to five people.
  • All outdoor recreational activities, with a maximum of five people from a different household.
  • All remaining manufacturing activities, and new construction work.
  • In-person services at retail stores.
  • Office-based businesses.
  • Personal care businesses, including barber shops and hair salons.
  • Dine-in services at restaurants, with a 50 percent maximum capacity and tables with a maximum of five people.


On May 5, authorities moved the entire state into Phase 1, which has allowed the reopening of auto and boat sales, landscaping, car washes, and some pet services, as well as fishing, hunting, boating, and golf. Retail stores have been able to operate for curbside pickup only. Residential construction was allowed to resume since April 29. Statewide, Phase 1 will remain in place through at least May 26. Employers must ensure social distancing measures, enhance sanitation procedures, and prevent employees with symptoms to attend work. Other nonessential services must remain closed, although employees can work from home whenever possible.

A stay at home order also remains in place statewide through at least May 31. The order stipulates that residents may only leave their homes for essential tasks, such as obtaining basic goods, attending to a medical issue, caring for a person in need, or attending work at a business or service allowed to operate. People may also perform outdoor recreational activities while maintaining a proper distance from others. Gatherings of any kind remain banned.

Essential businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and those involved in food, utilities, energy, security, media, and transport, may continue operating. All individuals must wear face coverings when in public.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measure. Officials could amend the order in short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures are likely to accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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