On Thursday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced that he is extending the state’s stay-at-home order through May 4. During this period, dining rooms must still be closed, but restaurants and bars may continue to offer takeout and delivery options. The current measures billed as “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” to help slow the spread of COVID-19 were due to expire April 8, but will now be in effect for the next month. Inslee said there are no new restrictions in the order.
The announcement was hardly unexpected. Inslee had hinted recently that an extension to the order was likely, and in Thursday’s press conference, he said that the death toll from the novel coronavirus could rise higher than projected, if the state lets up in its efforts. To date, Washington has 6,585 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 262 deaths, according to the state’s Department of Health.
This puts restaurants and other small businesses in a continuing state of limbo. For several weeks, some restaurants have tried to adjust to the new rules that still allow for takeout, drive-thru, and delivery, but it’s unclear how long they would be able to maintain those services with limited resources.
Korean-Hawaiian restaurant chain Marination decided to close temporarily out of concern for public health and the safety of its workers. Molly Moon’s and Li’l Woody’s also closed for the time being, citing similar reasons for abandoning takeout and delivery services. For those restaurants and others, the risks of possible exposure to COVID-19 by staying open in a limited capacity may seem too great. And they’re not alone, as many restaurants across the country grapple with the current challenges in the face of a pandemic.
Inslee mentioned that he admired the resiliency and cooperation of small businesses to this point, including restaurants adjusting to offer takeout. “If they’re closed, I hope people will consider buying a gift certificate,” he said.