Inslee extends indoor dining ban, other COVID-19 restrictions until Jan. 11

By Orion Donovan-Smith

The Spokesman-Review

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday announced a one-week extension to restrictions on indoor service at bars and restaurants until Jan. 11 as holiday travel drives a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases.

The governor had already extended his “Stay Safe — Stay Healthy” guidelines earlier this month until Jan. 4 after first putting them in place in mid-November. In addition to banning indoor dining and drinking, the order closes other businesses that rely on indoor activities, such as movie theaters and gyms.

“Our consistent mission has been keeping Washingtonians safe and ensuring health care system and hospital capacity,” Inslee, a Democrat, said in a statement. “We understand the profound impact COVID is having on our healthcare system, families, and businesses, but I am heartened by the number of Washingtonians who continue to do the right thing.”

“If we continue distancing from others, wearing facial coverings and avoiding social gatherings, we will make it to the other side of this pandemic together.”

Washington had seen more than 238,000 confirmed cases and nearly 3,200 deaths from COVID-19 as of Tuesday, according to data from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention. Nationwide, the virus had killed more than 334,000 Americans and infected nearly 20 million.

Earlier in December, Washington set a new record with a seven-day average of more than 3,000 new daily cases, according to state Health Department data.

Spokane County recorded another 146 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. The death toll is 365, averaging more than one Spokane County death per day since the pandemic began, according to data from the Spokane Regional Health District.

Washingtonians are urged to wear masks and keep their distance from people outside their households. Other activities, including weddings, funerals and religious services, are required to limit attendance to allow for social distancing.

Wednesday’s order made no changes to the existing restrictions. The governor’s office is developing a plan for businesses to reopen safely, the statement said, that will be released next week.