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How Washington's new COVID-19 restrictions are different from March stay-home order

Governor Inslee unveiled the most severe restrictions on activity in Washington since spring but more activities are allowed now.

SPOKANE, Wash — Responding to record-breaking levels of COVID-19 spread in the state, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced the most severe restrictions on activity Sunday since his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order in March.

Most of the rules are in effect as of Monday at 11:59 p.m. and will remain in effect until Dec. 14. Modified restrictions for restaurants will take effect Wednesday, November 18 at 12:01 a.m.

Although the case numbers are higher than they were in March, these restrictions are in fact less extensive than those implemented during the initial shutdown.  

The fundamental difference: In March, nearly all communal activities were banned outright. More activities are allowed now, just with strict limitations on where and how.

Here's a list of some of the biggest changes:

  • Eating at restaurants is allowed, but only outdoors and with no more than 5 people at a table.
  • You can attend fitness classes if they're outside and socially distant.
  • Some types of social gatherings are okay this time. You can be outdoors with no more than five people. You can even be indoors if everyone quarantines two weeks beforehand or one week if they get tested and it comes back negative.
  • Elective surgery is not banned.
  • Construction is not banned.
  • School districts have flexibility to allow some in-person learning, if the local health officer permits it based on local COVID data.
  • While movie theaters are closed, as they were in the first lockdown, this time there's an exception for drive-ins.
  • Retail stores can be open, unlike last time when only grocery stores and other essential services were allowed. The stores just have to make sure they don't go over 25 percent capacity.
  • Personal services, like barbers and hair salons, can stay open now, but they too must keep it to 25 percent capacity.
  • Weddings and funerals are okay this time with up to 30 people, though receptions are once again banned.
  • Church services are allowed at 25 percent capacity as long as that means no more than 200 people. Interestingly, there are specific bans this time on choirs and bands performing, as singing indoors has shown to be particularly dangerous during the pandemic.
  • Most teams sports are once again banned, however this time there's an exception for pro and college teams that follow rigorous protocols.