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Guidance regarding business and residential landlord compliance with statewide Stay Home, Stay Healthy orders

Camp Murray, WA — Gov. Jay Inslee on March 23, 2020, announced a statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order that requires everyone to stay home unless they are pursuing an essential activity such as shopping for groceries, picking up prescription medications or seeking emergency medical care. The order bans all social, spiritual and recreational gatherings and requires all non-essential businesses to close. The order details several categories of essential businesses and workers that can remain operational because they are critical to protecting the health and well-being of all Washingtonians.

On March 18, 2020, Gov. Inslee announced a temporary Moratorium on Evictions for certain residential tenants. Minimizing residential evictions is critical to enable Washingtonians to comply with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

Below is information on essential versus non-essential status, and enforcement and guidance about the Stay Home order and Moratorium on Evictions.

Online form for businesses with questions about their essential/non-essential status

Many businesses have questions about their status or how to comply with these new orders. The state’s Joint Information Center has worked with state agencies to provide an online form for businesses seeking clarification or guidance about their essential/non-essential status or requesting inclusion as an essential business.

As of March 28, thousands of inquiries have been submitted. A team of state agency personnel are reviewing inquiries and responding to questions as quickly as possible.

Enforcement resources and guidance about the Stay Home order

The vast majority of businesses and Washingtonians understand the urgency of slowing the spread of the coronavirus and know that adhering to the Stay Home order is necessary to save lives. It is also true that anyone willfully violating the provisions of the governor’s order is violating RCW 43.06.220(5) and can be found guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

In instances when a worker, business owner or Washingtonian is concerned that a business is not complying, the state Joint Information Center is providing an online form to file a complaint. Many businesses are regulated by one or more state regulatory entities and complaints will be routed to the appropriate state agency for review.

Agency personnel will contact businesses to provide information and guidance about how to comply with the order. Voluntary compliance, motivated by a shared desire to keep one another safe and healthy, is the goal at all times. For businesses that continue to willfully and flagrantly violate the order, stricter enforcement actions will be pursued, in accordance with due process.

Enforcement decisions about individuals willfully violating the Stay Home order are made at the local level. State leaders have worked in close coordination with local law enforcement about educating people on the importance of social distancing and staying home. The public is urged to continue using common sense when determining whether to contact law enforcement about group gatherings.

At no time should people be contacting 911 to complain solely about possible violations of the Stay Home order.

Enforcement resources and guidance about the Moratorium on Evictions

Landlords statewide have expressed their understanding and support for their role in ensuring the highest possible level of housing stability during this public health emergency. Residential landlords or tenants with questions about their responsibilities under the Moratorium on Evictions may submit inquiries through Joint Information Center’s online complaint form. The same form may be used to submit a complaint about an eviction or rental practice that may violate Washington law.

For more information, review the statement issued by Governor Inslee.

Information for businesses, landlords, and tenants about the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and the Moratorium on Evictions will continually be updated at www.coronavirus.wa.gov.