grocery store shopping

**Article updated with new information**

OLYMPIA — WA State Governor Jay Inslee is intending to announce drastic new COVID-19 related restrictions in a scheduled press conference at about 11am on Sunday morning, Nov 15th, 2020.

This information was contained in a leaked email letter from the Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA) to their members. In it, the President and CEO of WFIA, Tammy Hetrick, stated that she met with Governor Inslee’s office regarding the intended new restrictions. These statewide restrictions are expected to take effect on Monday, Nov 16, 2020, and last for at least 4 weeks. As it stands, gyms, bowling alleys, museums, movie theaters and aquariums would be required to close, said various industry officials. 

The planned restrictions – from the email – are currently:

  1. All indoor social gatherings are prohibited. We are unsure how this will be enforced at this time.

  2. Restaurants and bars are closed for indoor service. Outdoor service is limited to 5 people. To-go orders may continue.

  3. There will be a limit of 25% occupancy for all retail – including grocery and convenience retailers. The capacity limit will not include employees.

  4. All delis and salad bars will be to go, there will be no indoor seating allowed for these areas in stores.

  5. The Governor will also be updating guidance on mask restrictions, which will clearly indicate that stores and other customer-facing businesses will have a choice to restrict all non-mask wearers in the store and provide other options for providing food and other essential products.

The occupancy limits will undoubtedly hurt businesses, and customers, as we go into the busiest season of the year. The WFIA asked for the capacity limit to be increased, but the Governor’s office refused, as they are following other states that have developed similar restrictions.

The WFIA says that, state-wide, 1% of COVID-19 cases occur at workplaces, with 0.06% occurring in grocery and convenience stores. Their opinion is that the reduced level of cases for their industry means that their members have the right process in protecting both customers and employees.

These new restrictions appear to be tightest ones placed on everyday activities in Washington since March when Inslee issued his original emergency stay-at-home proclamation.

A spokesman for the Governor, indicated that the outline of the new restrictions provided to various industries is not complete, so many individuals and businesses are expecting additional, and upsetting, surprises when the details are released at the Sunday press conference.


An email from the Washington Hospitality Association to their members, which consist of restaurants, hotels, bars, golf courses and other hospitality businesses, is also circulating, which largely restates the new restrictions which are expected to be implemented by the Governor.

The association sees these new restrictions as devastating to their members, and expects that it will cause 100,000 workers to lose their jobs just before the holiday season, this time with no additional federal benefits. The association doesn't believe that restaurants are contributing to the spread of COVID-19, as they say fewer than one-half of one percent of cases are traced to restaurants.

To many observers, it seems that these new rules will be disproportionately affecting an industry that is hanging on by a thread and is apparently not overly-contributing to the spread of the virus. It seems certain that this path will lead to additional permanent losses of businesses and jobs, negatively affecting us all.



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