Washington's Stay Home Order – What Does It Mean?

March 24, 2020

This article is for educational and entertainment purposes only. This is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Every case is different. Consult a licensed professional in your state. Viewing this website or its content does not create an attorney-client relationship with Lyda Law Firm or any of its lawyers.

On March 23rd, Governor Inslee ordered that most of Washington’s 7.5 million-plus residents stay home for at least two weeks as we try to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

However, people working in “essential” jobs or for “essential businesses” may continue working and operating. The order remains in effect through 4/6, (unless subsequently extended beyond April 6th).

Right now, there are employees and businesses scrambling to determine whether they are “essential” and effectively able to remain working and operational.  Lyda Law Firm remains open (working remotely) and dedicated to servicing small businesses and non-profits throughout the greater Seattle area. 

Who is “Essential?”

Governor Inslee’s office has released a list of exempt business sectors and essential employee functions for guidance, but here’s a quick reference.

  • Healthcare Sector – health care providers and caregivers; employees providing COVID-19 testing and research/development in response; hospital and laboratory staff; pharmacy employees necessary for filling prescriptions; employees performing mortuary services; medical facilities (including hospitals, clinics and veterinary hospitals/clinics); and more.
  • Emergency Services Sector – law enforcement employees; employees in public safety; first responders; military personnel; and more.
  • Public Works Sector – employees who support essential public works (i.e., bridge, water/sewer main and transportation maintenance); employees who provide services essential for safety/sanitation/operation (i.e., plumbers, electricians, exterminators); and more.
  • Food and Agriculture Sector – grocery stores; pharmacies; farmer’s markets; carry-out restaurants; farm employees; food manufacturing; food sanitation; cannabis retail; manufacture/distribution of forest products; and more.
  • Energy Sector – production, refining, storage and distribution of oil, gas, and electric power (except for hydroelectric and commercial nuclear power facilities and pipelines); and more.
  • Water and Wastewater Sector – maintenance of drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure.
  • Transportation and Logistics Sector – aviation transportation services/support; highway transportation services/support; maritime transportation services/support; mass transit services/support; postal and shipping services/support; freight rail services/support; pipeline systems carrying natural gas and various other chemicals; and more.
  • Communications and IT Sector – maintenance of communications infrastructure; media services (radio, television, newspapers, etc.); engineers, technicians, installation and maintenance services; and more.
  • Government/Community Operations – Courts (subject to the parameters issued by WA’s Chief Justice); local critical government employees; some construction workers; hotel workers; licensed pre-K and private childcare establishments; employees providing care to animals in zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, nature preserves, game farms; rental car operations; laundromats and laundry services; and more.
  • There additionally are critical employees in various businesses and sectors who may continue working, as well as additional sectors with critical components (i.e., some manufacturing; financial services; defense contractors; etc.). 

Washington State, along with many other states and individual cities, are grappling with determining these “essential” sectors and “essential employees” across all businesses. 

What and who qualifies as “essential” will continue to be flushed out as businesses and individuals determine whether or not they qualify as “essential.”  A spokesman for Governor Inslee’s office has stated that violations of Governor Inslee’s order can be reported and will be investigated and referred to the prosecutor’s office as appropriate, so it’s best to determine your and your businesses’ status *before* being subject to any investigation!

One thing is crystal clear, however, and that is that things won’t return to “normal” in the immediate future. To learn more about how these changes may impact and affect your business and business needs, contact Lyda Law Firm

Keep in mind, individuals can continue doing “essential” activities while this order is in effect. These activities include things like obtaining necessary supplies/services, engaging in activities essential for health and safety; caring for family/friends/pets, and engaging in outdoor exercise activities subject to appropriate social distancing practices.

Washingtonians are resilient, and we will overcome and prevail stronger than ever!

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