In response to increasing coronavirus cases, Governor Jay Inslee announced sweeping, potentially devastating new restrictions on business. Those restrictions include the closure of indoor dining, bars, movie theaters, bowling alleys, museums, restricting retail to 25% capacity (including grocery stores), and banning indoor gatherings of any kind with individuals outside of your own household.
Unlike the initial lockdown in March, these restrictions are not offset by additional federal aid to businesses, employees, or families. The Governor has also refused offers from Republicans in the state legislature to enter an emergency session to provide additional relief, stating that adhering to the planned legislative start in January is sufficient.
“Health and safety should be our number one priority, which makes the Governor’s decision to shutter thousands of businesses during a health crisis extremely troubling,” said Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) Executive Director Barbara Chase. “Lockdowns and draconian restrictions have already failed once. Doubling down on the strategy while believing that the missing piece to make it effective was less help makes absolutely no sense. The last lockdown destroyed dozens of Whatcom County businesses. The Governor’s announcement of restrictions right after an election seems like a questionable strategy with questionable timing, with no guidance or even discussion of a long-term plan. Governor Inslee’s unshakeable belief that the only way to fight a pandemic is with poverty and unemployment had devastating consequences in March. It will have even more devastating consequences.”
The Governor announced that he will distribute the remaining $50M in aid to Washington businesses, though he did not pair that announcement with specifics, nor did he provide any information on how state government will attempt to mitigate the impact of the lockdown on Washingtonians.
The WBA strongly encourages the business community to contact their local and statewide representatives to voice their concerns.
“We need a business voice in the Governor’s ear,” Chase said. “Given his lifetime of experience in the public sector, it is understandable that this Administration cannot understand the concept that businesses cannot close and open on a moment’s notice, and that the private sector is required to produce tangible goods and services to remain solvent. Because of that, it is our responsibility to educate this administration, before it is too late.”
To follow the WBA’s advocacy efforts, please visit the WBA Policy Center and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more about our vision to return Whatcom County’s business community to prosperity.