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Governor Orders Shutdown of Washington Restaurants and Bars for Dine-in Service

But takeout and delivery will still be allowed

The Seattle skyline at dusk.
Seattle’s bars and restaurants will only be open for takeout or delivery for the next couple of weeks.

In a drastic move to try to stem the COVID-19 outbreak in Washington State, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that he would sign an emergency proclamation Monday to temporarily shut down restaurants and bars statewide. Takeout and delivery will be allowed, but “no in-person dining will be permitted,” according to the governor’s statement.

Groceries and pharmacies will stay open, while gatherings over 50 participants are prohibited — and gatherings under 50 must meet previously announced criteria for public health and social distancing.

King County released a similar statement that said restaurants and bars in the area would need to stay closed (aside from delivery, drive-through, and takeout exceptions) until March 31.

In what’s been a rapidly changing response to the coronavirus pandemic, this move seemed, perhaps, inevitable, especially after several cities and states across the country announced similar steps this weekend. Ever since COVID-19 reached U.S. shores, Washington has seemed to be the epicenter of the outbreak, with the first reported deaths in the country and a rising number of cases — currently 769 — in the state, including 42 deaths. Authorities have steadily escalated actions in attempt to mitigate the spread, including an order last week to restrict gatherings of more than 250 people.

This announcement casts a larger shadow over the future of the restaurant scene in Seattle, which has already seen dozens of places close down temporarily due to coronavirus-related impacts. Many have scrambled to make the pivot to takeout and delivery, including chef Edouardo Jordan of JuneBaby and Salare and fine dining icon Canlis, which plans to close down its main dining room to open a drive-thru burger spot, takeout bagel shop, and meal delivery service this week. The popular new Beacon Hill Filipino Musang briefly transitioned to takeout only this past weekend, but decided Sunday to close down all service temporarily, citing public health concerns.

“Go to work if you must. But hunker down if you are able,” King County executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “Postpone anything you can. Treat the next two weeks as a period of self-quarantine, to protect yourself and the lives and health of your loved ones and the entire community.”