By: Lisa Lehmann Nichols and Helen McFarland

On November 15, 2020, Washington Governor Jay Inslee again amended his previously issued Proclamation 20-25, which proclaimed a state of emergency associated with the spread of COVID-19.  Proclamation 20-25.8 rolls back county-by-county phased reopenings in response to the dangerous spikes of COVID-19 cases per day in Washington.

How long will this proclamation be in effect?

The proclamation became effective midnight on Monday, November 16, for all counties, and will last until December 14, 2020 at 11:59 PM, unless extended.

Can I still travel?

The proclamation reminds citizens that a previously-issued travel advisory has been issued for all non-essential travel. The guidance cautions citizens to stay home, in their region, and to avoid non-essential travel to other states or countries. It also encouraged travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Washington, limiting interactions with their immediate household.

Is my business impacted by the amended proclamation?

The following non-exhaustive list of businesses face new regulations under this proclamation:

1.    Professional services must mandate employees work from home when possible and close offices to the public if possible. If the office must remain open, occupancy must be limited to 25 percent of indoor occupancy limits.

a.    “Professional services” are office-based occupations that typically serve a client base. Examples include: accountants, attorneys, architects, engineers, financial advisors, information technologists, insurance agents, and tax preparers.

2.    Business meetings at miscellaneous venues are prohibited. Miscellaneous venues include conference centers, hotel meeting spaces, event centers, and similar spaces. Exceptions exist for professional training and testing that “cannot be performed remotely” and all court and judicial branch related proceedings, provided that occupancy of these venues only reaches 25 percent of indoor occupancy limits or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

3.    Long-term care facilities may allow outdoor visits, but not indoor visits. Exceptions exist for an essential support person or end-of-life care.

4.    Personal services (such as hairstylists, manicurists, and tattoo artists) are limited to 25 percent of indoor occupancy.

5.    Restaurants and Bars must close dine-in services. Outdoor dining is limited to five people per table and must follow the Outdoor Dining Guidance.  These restrictions go into effect at 12:01 a.m. November 18, 2020.

6.    Additional businesses closed for indoor operation include fitness facilities, movie theaters, museums, zoos, aquariums, and bowling alleys.

Is my business exempt from the new restrictions?

K-12 schools, higher education, health care and childcare are exempt from new restrictions and should instead follow the current guidelines. These restrictions do not apply to courts and judicial branch proceedings.

What about activities and businesses not addressed by the amended order?

If the activity or business is not listed in the amended order, you should continue to follow the current guidance.

Will there be an additional financial aid package for businesses?

While not addressed in the proclamation, Governor Inslee announced that another $50 million would be made available in federal aid to help mitigate the effect on businesses.

Is there a penalty for violating this order?

Yes, violators of this order may be subject to criminal penalties and be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.  The maximum punishment for a gross misdemeanor is 364 days in county jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.