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New restrictions on social gatherings for Phase 3 counties now in effect

Gov. Jay Inslee is restricting gatherings in Phase 3 from 50 to 10 people to help curb the spread of the coronavirus and said another stay-home order is possible.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee said he is adjusting the rules for social gatherings during the pandemic as the state continues to see a rise in coronavirus cases. He also isn't ruling out another stay-at-home order if people don't follow the new guidelines. 

Counties in modified Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the state's Safe Start plan can continue to have social gatherings with five people or less. However, counties in Phase 3 can now only have social gatherings with 10 people or less. Previously, counties in Phase 3 could have gatherings up to 50 people. 

“We cannot let our guard down even as we engage in more activities,” said Gov. Inslee during a Thursday afternoon press conference.

The state is also prohibiting all live indoor and outdoor entertainment to help curb the spread of COVID-19.  These new rules went into effect Monday. 

The new rules will not impact weddings, funerals, and spiritual services, Gov. Inslee said.

The governor said as people venture out and have small social gatherings, they need to wear face masks and continue to socially distance. He also said having gatherings outdoors is safer than indoors. 

Gov. Inslee also said he’s not ruling out another stay-at-home order if individuals do not adhere to the rules around social gatherings and face coverings. 

Washington is continuing to see a rise in coronavirus cases and it's most commonly spread at social gatherings, according to Secretary of Health John Wiesman.

During the week of June 26--July 2, the state averaged 629 new COVID-19 cases every day, according to Wiesman. It's the highest rate of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. 

The governor called it a “very disturbing pattern.” 

There are currently 43,046 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, including 1,421 deaths. 

A total of 733,886 people have been tested for the coronavirus and of those, 5.9% of the tests came back positive for COVID-19. 

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