During a rare Sunday morning press conference, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a new set of restrictions set to last for the next four weeks in an attempt to slow alarming recent increases in COVID-19 cases statewide.
The measures include stricter prohibitions on public gatherings in restaurants and bars. Starting Wednesday, Nov. 18, and lasting through at least Dec. 14, establishments can only serve food or drinks via takeout, or can only seat parties of five or less from the same household at outdoor dining areas.
The rules come at an already uncertain time for restaurants, as cold weather has curtailed the outdoor dining that helped sustain business under Washington's previous limits, including seating capacity reduced to 50 percent and an 11 pm alcohol service cutoff.
Inslee noted Sunday that statewide spikes in COVID-19 cases — more than 2,000 a day recently, far surpassing numbers at the pandemic's onset — are mostly linked to people hosting social gatherings in their homes or other private spaces.
"And it means, unfortunately, the time has come to reinstate restrictions on activities statewide to preserve the public's well-being, and to save lives," Inslee said. "These were very difficult decisions that have very real consequences to people's livelihoods. I recognize that and don't take those impacts lightly, but we must act now and act quickly to slow the spread of this disease."
Details on financial relief packages for restaurants and other industries most affected by the new restrictions were still forthcoming early in the week. Inslee noted that $50 million in state funds were being set aside for those efforts, and that there is no risk of state unemployment benefits running out.
MORE THANKSGIVING MEAL OPTIONS FROM LOCAL RESTAURANTSLast week, we offered a preview of how some local restaurants are planning to serve customers both for dine-in and takeout service this Thanksgiving. While dine-in service now won't be an option for most venues in Eastern Washington, fully prepared Thanksgiving meals are still available from many local restaurants, as well as catering companies. Here are a few more taste options that have crossed our inbox since last week:
Orders for a complete family-style dinner to go ($89 for a turkey dinner or $105 for an Italian-style pork loin roast) should be placed by 1 pm Thursday, Nov. 19, to guarantee availability, with curbside pickup offered at the venue on Nov. 24 and 25. Details at commellini.square.site.
Beacon Hill Catering & Events
A complete scratch-made meal for four ($75) is offered along with many sides, desserts and wine available as add-ons. Local delivery is offered on Wednesday, Nov. 25, between 1 and 4 pm. Details at beaconhillathome.square.site.
Eat Good Group
Chef Adam Hegsted's team is offering a full meal for four ($70) and the option to add pies, sides and more. Pre-orders will be available for pickup on Nov. 24 and 25 from the Yards Bruncheon, Eat Good Cafe or Republic Kitchen & Taphouse. Details at eatgoodgroup.com/heat-and-eat.
Ivory Table Catering Co.
Full meal ($72-$432) and side dish ($50-$300) boxes, as well as ala carte pies, salads and more, are available to pre-order for pickup or delivery on Nov. 24. Details at store.ivorytable.com. ♦