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Governor Inslee extends COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, restaurants, gyms to Jan. 4

This story is orginally from the Yakima Herald and you can find more information on their website.

"Washington’s latest round of sweeping COVID-19 restrictions will stay in place through Christmas and into the new year.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the wide-ranging restrictions he ordered on Nov. 15 — shutting down indoor dining, gyms and limiting social gatherings — will be extended to Jan. 4.

Inslee also pledged $50 million in additional state aid that would be made available for businesses, as well as economic safeguards for workers impacted by the pandemic.

In addition to shutting down indoor service at restaurants and bars, Inslee’s order limits outdoor seating to parties of five or fewer. Gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys and museums must remain closed.

Indoor gatherings with people outside of a person’s household are prohibited unless participants have quarantined for at least a week and tested negative for the virus.

At the time he announced the Nov. 15 emergency order, initially for four weeks, Inslee said he hoped the state would make progress, “and that would be the limit of these restrictions.”

The governor and other officials also had pleaded with the public to limit Thanksgiving family gatherings and travel.

But COVID-19 infections in Washington have continued to rise.

On Nov. 3, the state recorded 1,469 coronavirus cases. By Nov. 15, daily cases had risen more than 50%, to 2,309 cases.

On Monday, the state reported nearly 7,000 new coronavirus cases, though health officials said that figure includes a backlog of cases from the weekend as well as 1,800 potential duplicates.

In all, Washington has seen 184,404 infections and 2,941 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.

The continued emergency order extensions by Inslee have rankled Republicans in the state Legislature, who have been asking for a special session to debate restrictions and provide emergency relief for businesses.

Fifty-two lawmakers signed a new letter to Inslee this week, calling the need for legislative action “urgent and growing.” The Democratic governor has so far rebuffed the requests. The Legislature is scheduled to convene for a regular session next month.

The continuing shutdowns imposed to varying degrees since Inslee’s original “stay home” order in March have taken an increasing toll on workers and businesses.

About 27% of Washington businesses have experienced a government-mandated closure — the third highest rate in the nation, according to federal data cited by the Washington Research Council.

Six percent of the state’s resident civilian workforce of 3.9 million was unemployed in October, the most recent month for which data is available. That’s about 50% more than were unemployed in October 2019.

This is a breaking news story that will be updated."

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