Gov. Jay Inslee announced a three week extension to statewide restrictions on businesses and social gatherings on Tuesday, while also releasing information on additional economic support for workers and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The three-week extension of the current restrictions is in place until January 4, 2021.
This three-week extension of statewide restrictions comes as the state’s healthcare system nears dangerous occupancy levels, according to Inslee.
With the effects of Thanksgiving on infection and hospital numbers still unknown, the extension will grant the state’s medical system much needed time to increase Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity before it’s overwhelmed.
In a release, officials say that nearly 80% of ICU beds are currently occupied, with around 1,000 residents in those units.
In an effort to support businesses impacted by the restrictions, the state has distributed billions of dollars in federal and state funds to help all of the state’s industries and workers impacted by this pandemic to date, $50 million going straight to businesses through Working Washington grants.
Inslee was joined by Department of Commerce Director Lisa Brown who announced an additional $50 million, doubling the number of Washington small businesses that will receive aid. Industries recently shut down, such as restaurants and fitness centers, as well as businesses that have been devastatingly impacted throughout the pandemic, like music and event venues, have been prioritized.
In addition, Inslee also announced the state’s readiness to step in in the case of congressional failure to extend the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funding in the CARES Act by the end of the year. Washington will be able to fill some of the funding gap for residents that aren’t eligible for regular UI, such as self-employed workers, freelancers and independent contractors.