5:31 PM: Gov. Jay Inslee is speaking right now, for an address billed as outlining “enhanced strategies” for dealing with COVID-19. He’s announced a “stay-home order” that he says will result in the closure of more businesses. That doesn’t mean you can’t leave your house, he says. It “builds on” previous orders. He says that though he’s already asked people to stay home, not everyone is heeding the call. “This weapon, this distancing ourselves, is the only weapon we have against this virus.”
It’s in effect for “at least two weeks,” he says. “This does not mean you can’t go outside” for a walk or bike ride, or to go to work in an “essential” industry. But the order bans ALL social/spiritual/ recreational gatherings – no beach parties, no pick-up sports, no wedding or funeral gatherings. The order takes effect in 48 hours, he says. He says the definition of “essential” largely follows federal guidelines.”The media will continue to operate as well,” he adds after listing health, emergency, defense industries. For restaurants, to-go and delivery service CAN CONTINUE, he says.
Inslee says they expect people will voluntarily comply – but if they don’t, the order is enforceable by law. He says this is tough but “we want to get back to normal as soon as humanly possible … (to do that) we need to hit this hard.”
He urges people NOT to make a run on grocery stores. And he advises turning “to what gives you hope.” He also lauds health-care workers and emergency responders as heroes.
“This challenge is temporary,” he offers in reassurance. “Every Washingtonian needs to enlist in this tumultuous struggle … if we are to win.”
He offers the new slogan “stay home, stay healthy” again in closing. We’ll be looking for more details on the specifics and will add them here as we get them. Also, he has a media briefing at 6:15 pm and we’ll add any additional details that come from that.
6 PM: Here’s the governor’s writeup on Medium. Not seeing the actual text of the order yet.
6:16 PM: The media briefing with various state officials has begun. One clarification: This is NOT “shelter in place” – that’s a term “for hurricanes” or shootings, you SHOULD go outside, they stress, but it’s a “full suite of things that can be enforced by law.” They say they talked to many local officials around the state to come up with the list.
Q&A: How many people can you be outside with? Your household members. Not even with friends or neighbors unless you’re at least six feet apart. If you break any of these laws, it is a gross misdemeanor. Are construction workers “essential”? Those on the call said they’re not sure – definitely if you’re, say, building a new hospital, but otherwise, they’re checking.
Can the order be renewed after two weeks? Yes. What would lead to an end of the order? Factors such as, what are they seeing in case count? Average incubation is 5-6 days, but can be up to two weeks. Also, the stress on the health-care system, as they’re trying to “prevent it from being … so stressed that we can’t protect our health-care workers.” And – “how well people are heeding this warning.” Is it OK to drive somewhere, like to an out-of-town trail? Yes, but not with a group of people from outside your household. What about June brides? “I’m not going to tell June brides to start canceling … that one’s hard to call.”
6:58 PM: Briefing’s over. Here’s the list of “essential businesses.”