Governor Jay Inslee has issued a new round of month-long COVID-19 pandemic business restrictions and shutdowns that began this week. The action followed rising virus infection rates in the past month.
The orders will remain in effect through December 14. They include reducing allowable indoor retail sales from 30% to 25% of store capacities, banning indoor restaurant service, and the closures of gyms, movie theaters and bowling centers.
Washington Retail has issued a media release expressing concern about the orders’ impacts on the overall state economy and the restaurant and retail industries in particular. The announcement pledged the association’s continued dialog and cooperation with the
Governor’s office to operate with safety as its highest priority to reduce infections and bring an end to the pandemic.
The orders are as extreme as anything Inslee has ordered since his emergency stay-home order in March. While the first order resulted in lower infection rates, unemployment soared as numerous restaurant and retailers shut down permanently and unemployment insurance claims set new records.
Retailers are particularly concerned about further closures because the latest orders are coming during the busy holiday shopping season, when many retailers earn as much as 40% of their annual revenues. The banning of sit-down service in mall food courts also is likely to be felt by retailers and restaurants who depend upon each other to remain viable.
Despite concern about the retail economy and the livelihoods of the approximately 400,000 people the industry employs statewide, Washington Retail President & CEO Renée Sunde pledged retail’s continuing commitment to emphasize customer safety as the best way to bring an end to the pandemic.
“As with all Washington residents,” she said, “our retailers will keep working hard to negotiate the delicate balance of safely serving customer demands while remaining committed to reducing infections and returning us to a way of life we all miss.”