OLYMPIA, WA — Governor Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that the current statewide pause on counties reopening will continue through July 28, possibly longer.
Today’s news comes as COVID-19 cases statewide continue to spike, and Inslee said that this time is a pivotal in determining what conditions will look like in September when students — at all levels — are expected to return to the classroom.
“We have to find somewhere to break that chain of looming disaster,” Inslee said.
Inslee also issued an advisory that Washingtonians shouldn’t be surprised if some pandemic restrictions are rolled back over the course of the pandemic. He said this may include things like indoor seating in businesses, but that will be determined in the upcoming days and weeks. New restrictions will also be determined by how many people wear face masks and practice physical distancing in public.
The governor also praised residents for adhering to the mandatory statewide order to wear face masks. He said today’s announcement is designed to keep the virus from spreading.
“We are not in as bad a state as others,” Inslee said, naming Arizona and Florida, that have been struggling in recent days to stop a massive virus case spike. “We can’t overstate how important this moment is in addressing the pandemic.”
The state’s mandatory face mask rule went into effect on June 26. Under the order, violators can be punished with misdemeanor criminal penalties and businesses are asked to refuse service to customers who are not in compliance with the order.
Inslee said the face mask order is having a positive effect on fighting COVID-19.
“What we know is this effort is working,” Inslee said. “Washingtonians are masking up.”
Exemptions to the face mask order include:
- People who can’t wear masks because of existing medical conditions.
- Children 5 years old and younger.
- People who are deaf or need to have their mouth uncovered in order to communicate.
- When it is onerous to do so, including customers who are eating out at a restaurant.
“We have to look at where we’re going to be, not where we are,” the governor said.