Legal Update

Mar 25, 2020

Washington Governor Issues Two-Week “Stay Home” Order

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By Helen M. McFarland and Lisa Nichols

On March 23, 2020, Washington’s Governor, Jay Inslee, issued Executive Order 20-25 requiring all people in Washington to “Stay Home” to prevent further spread of COVID-19.  Until midnight on April 6, 2020, unless extended, people in Washington are required to stay in their homes except to: (1) engage in essential activities (such as obtaining necessary supplies, caring for family members, and partaking in outdoor exercise); and/or (2) conduct essential businesses. 

The Order’s Effect On Washington Businesses.

The Order distinguishes between essential and non-essential businesses.  Essential businesses are encouraged to remain open so long as they establish and implement social distancing and sanitation measures.  Non-essential businesses, on the other hand, must cease operations beyond “minimum basic operations” by midnight on March 25, 2020, although employees may continue to work from home.

  1) Essential Businesses.

Below is a summary of the extensive list of essential businesses that are allowed to continue to operate during the Stay Home Order[1]:

  • Healthcare/Public Health.  The essential workforce includes workers in medical facilities; health care providers and caregivers; hospital and laboratory personnel; manufacturers and distributors of medical equipment and vaccines; community health workers, behavioral health workers, blood and plasma donors and the employees of the organizations operating related activities; workers who support food, shelter, and social services; and workers supporting veterinary hospitals and clinics.
  • Emergency Services Sector. The essential workforce includes military personnel;  emergency medical technicians; and front-line, management, and personnel for law enforcement, fire, and corrections, search and rescue.
  • Food and Agriculture. The essential workforce includes workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, and other retail selling food and beverage products; workers supporting restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations, food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees, farm workers; workers at company cafeterias; workers in food testing labs; workers supporting cannabis retail; workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products such as timber or paper; and animal agriculture workers. 
  • Energy. The essential workforce includes workers in the electricity industry who maintain, ensure, or restore the generation and distribution of electric power; petroleum workers at refinery facilities or who work  on product storage, pipeline, and maritime transport; and natural and propane gas workers such as those who work on underground storage of natural gas or natural gas transmission and distribution.
  • Water and Wastewater. The essential workforce includes employees needed to operate and maintain drinking water and waste water, such as operational staff at water authorities, community water systems, waste treatment facilities, and water distribution and testing.
  • Transportation and Logistics. The essential workforce includes employees supporting or enabling transportation functions such as technicians; warehouse workers; truck stop or rest area workers; mass transit workers; ferry workers; taxi drivers; truck drivers who haul hazardous and waste materials; and postal and shipping workers.
  • Communications. The essential workforce includes workers who support radio, television, newspapers and media service; workers at independent system operators including engineers and/or technicians that manage networks or operate facilities; and dispatchers involved with service repair and restoration.
  • Information Technology. The essential workforce includes workers who support command centers, data center operators, client service centers, field engineers, other technicians supporting critical infrastructure; workers responding to cyber incidents; workers supporting communications systems; and support staff required for continuity of services, such as janitorial/cleaning staff.
  • Other Community Based Government Operations. The essential workforce includes critical government workers; elections personnel; workers who ensure continuity of building functions; workers for the court system; workers responsible for facilitating return to work resources; state and county workers responsible for determining eligibility for safety-net benefits; weather forecasters; childcare for the children of essential workers or uniquely vulnerable children; workers supporting childcare establishments for purposes of distance learning or school meals; hotel workers; unions; and laundry services.
  • Critical Manufacturing. The essential workforce consists of workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains, transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base.
  • Hazardous Materials. The essential workforce consists of workers at nuclear facilities, including workers managing medical waste; workers managing waste from pharmaceuticals and medical material production; workers at laboratories processing test kits; workers who support hazardous materials response and cleanup; and workers who maintain digital systems infrastructure supporting hazardous materials management operations.
  • Financial Services. The essential workforce consists of workers who are needed to process and maintain systems for processing financial transactions and service; workers who are needed to provide consumer access to banking and lending services, including ATMs, and to move currency and payments; and workers who support financial operations, such as those staffing data and security operations centers.
  • Chemical. The essential workforce includes workers supporting the chemical and industrial gas supply chains; workers supporting the safe transportation of chemicals; and workers supporting the operation and maintenance of facilities.
  • Defense Industrial Base. The essential workforce includes workers who support the essential services required to meet national security commitments to the federal government and U.S. Military; and personnel working for companies, and their subcontractors, who perform under contract to the Department of Defense providing materials and services to the Department of Defense, and government-owned/contractor-operated and government-owned/government-operated facilities.

Businesses seeking clarification, or to petition to be added to the list of essential businesses, should email:

            2) Non-Essential Businesses.

Non-essential businesses must cease all but the basic minimum operations.  The basic minimum is defined as the “minimum activities necessary to maintain” the value of the business’ inventory, preserve the condition of the business’ physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences, and related functions.

Violators May Be Subject To Criminal Penalties.

Violations of this Order result in a gross misdemeanor and violators may be subject to criminal penalties, meaning a fine of up to a $5,000 and/or jail time.



[1]For a more comprehensive list please click here.