Gov. Jay Inslee today extended the emergency orders affecting the state of Washington, meant to address the COVID-19 crisis.
That means a continued ban on indoor dining, wedding and funeral receptions, and any large indoor gatherings that involve more than one household, until at least Jan. 4.
Those orders were scheduled to expire next week.
In addition, the governor says while Congress hasn’t extended financial relief for businesses and those left jobless by the pandemic, the state of Washington plans to step up:
“Because COVID strikes both at our health and our economic well-being, we also are announcing an additional $50 million in additional grants for businesses, specifically those who have been hit hardest by these restrictions,” Inslee said. “As well as economic safeguards for workers who might be losing their employment and income as a result of the pandemic.”
Inslee expanded the order in part because hospital intensive care units across the state are filling up too fast.
Eighty percent of beds are full statewide on average and 1,000 people are currently in intensive care.
If the U.S. Congress is unable to approve another COVID-19 relief bill that would extend added unemployment benefits, Inslee said Washington state is prepared to fill that gap.”
Negotiators in Congress are debating a bill that would provide another $300 a week in payments to people collecting unemployment.
In addition, it would extend payments to people who traditionally wouldn’t qualify for unemployment benefits, like business owners, self-employed workers and independent contractors.
That provision is due to expire Dec. 21.
“If Congress does not act, the state will provide relief to those who are on the pandemic unemployment system as of the week of Nov. 21st,” Inslee said. “That will happen by the end of December. We will not allow people to fall off that cliff in the state of Washington.”