Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday extended orders requiring all non-essential businesses to close and about 7 million state residents to stay home to help slow the spread of the CCP virus (COVID-19).
Inslee extended his initial orders, issued on March 23, to May 4, saying social distancing measures must remain in place an additional month to minimize the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the coronavirus. The measures were originally set to expire next week.
Washingtonians: thank you for staying home. I’m proud of our efforts as a state.
But we have an obligation to ourselves and our loved ones to recognize the hard road ahead
So tonight I’m extending the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order for one month. 1/7
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) April 3, 2020
Inslee said he is “proud of our efforts as a state,” but “we have an obligation to ourselves and our loved ones to recognize the hard road ahead.”
“So tonight I’m extending the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order for one month,” he said in a Twitter post.
He said he did not take the decision lightly and assured that the measures implemented thus far are working.
“But we have yet to see the full toll of this virus,” he added. “We will not sacrifice the lives of Washingtonians by ending these measures too soon.”
As of Wednesday, Washington state had a total of 6,585 CCP virus cases, and at least 262 had died. Inslee said the state is struggling with dwindling personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies and that the federal government has not been able to supply the state fast enough to meet the growing need amid the ongoing CCP virus pandemic.
Under the stay-at-home order, all businesses other than those that offer people “basic, crucial needs,”—a long list that includes grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and gas stations—will need to remain closed until May 5. The order also prohibits all social, spiritual, and recreational gatherings, which includes weddings and funerals.
“Businesses and entities that provide essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet,” the order states. “Industries that can argue they are essential can request a special designation as an essential business.”
Washington residents are still allowed to exercise outdoors as long as they keep a distance of at least six-foot from others. People must only leave their homes to buy groceries, or if they need to go to a doctor’s appointment or work at an essential business.
“This order does not add any additional restrictions. It is simply an extension of the stay home order we put in place last week,” Inslee said. “The only way to return to our way of life and rebuild our economy in WA is to defeat this virus. That is why we must continue to stay home and stay healthy.”
Inslee said he used his emergency powers to increase unemployment insurance access, prohibit evictions for not paying rent, provide utility ratepayer assistance, and make tax payment flexible.
“We will work to ease the burden this has caused,” he said.
Inslee said the stay-at-home order could be extended once again, but said he hoped it would not have to be.
He said he is asking Washington manufacturers to begin producing PPE equipment to meet state demands amid the pandemic.
“The fact of the matter is, we need to seize our own destiny,” Inslee said at a news conference Wednesday. “Now, it is time for all of us to turn to manufacturing the equipment we need in this fight, in this war.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.