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On March 23, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 20-25 directing all residents immediately to heed current state public health directives to stay home. According to the proclamation, “[a]ll people in Washington State shall immediately cease leaving their home or place of residence except: (1) to conduct or participate in essential activities, and/or (2) for employment in essential business services.

The proclamation, titled “Stay Home – Stay Healthy,” is stated to be in effect for a minimum of two weeks, until April 6, 2020. The proclamation leaves open the possibility that the prohibitions will be extended beyond April 6, 2020.

Under the proclamation, nonessential businesses may not operate (except for work-from-home arrangements) after midnight on March 25, 2020.

Proclamation 20-25 requires every resident to stay at home except for people:

  • pursuing an essential activity, like shopping for groceries or going to a medical appointment (people may assist a family member or friend in pursuit of essential activities);
  • getting take-out food (food deliveries also are permitted);
  • going to work at an essential business; and
  • going outside for walks and exercise, as long as social distancing of six feet is maintained.

Essential Workers and Businesses

Governor Inslee designated a list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” which are detailed in accompanying guidance. The stated goal is to “help state, local, tribal, and industry partners as they work to protect communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.” The list is nearly identical to California’s March 19, 2020 executive order.

The list includes a wide array of employees in numerous private and public sector workplaces, including healthcare, public health, emergency services, public works, food and agriculture, energy, water and wastewater, transportation systems and logistics, communications and information technology, community-based government operations and essential functions, critical manufacturing, hazardous materials, financial services, chemicals, and the defense industrial base.

According to the proclamation, “[a]ll essential businesses are encouraged to remain open and maintain operations, but must establish and implement social distancing and sanitation measures established by the United States Department of Labor or the Washington State Department of Health Guidelines.” The governor also stated in the proclamation that all grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, food supply chains, and other things necessary for continued operations will remain open.

If a business believes that it is essential, or if it is an entity providing essential services or functions, it will be able to request designation as an essential business. To clarify status or petition to be added to the list of essential workers, employers can use the Business Re-Entry Registration website.

Non-essential Businesses

Nonessential businesses are permitted to implement work-from-home arrangements.

The proclamation specifically includes a number of prohibitions.

  • Effective immediately, all gatherings for social, spiritual, and recreational purposes are prohibited. This applies to both private and public gatherings that include everything from sleepovers for children to weddings and funerals. All of these types of events must be postponed for public health and safety.
  • “Effective midnight on March 25, 2020, all non-essential businesses in Washington State shall cease operations except for performing basic minimum operations.” Businesses that can operate using telework may continue to do so. For businesses where individuals cannot work from home, the governor’s office will provide guidance on what businesses are essential.

Regarding state lands and related businesses, all campsites, roofed accommodations (such as cabins, yurts, and vacation houses), group camps, and day-use facilities are closed through April 30, 2020.

Best Practices for Businesses

Under the proclamation, businesses and entities “must establish and implement social distancing and sanitation measures” established by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Washington State Department of Health Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations.


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