Washington State Governor Extends Stay-at-Home Order Through End of May

Democratic Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced on Friday that he would be extending the state's stay-at-home order through the end of May. The order is expected to go into effect on Monday. Inslee also said that Washington's eventual reopening would occur in four phases with at least three weeks separating the stages.

Inslee also said that some counties that had not been hard hit by the coronavirus would be able to apply to the Department of Health in order to open more quickly.

"We're turning the dial," Inslee said at a Friday briefing, claiming the extension will allow the state government "to take some initial and immediate steps for reopening."

Phase one of the reopening plan retains the ban on social gatherings, but does allow drive-in spiritual services with a capacity of one household per vehicle.

While essential businesses will be open, retail stores will be relegated to curbside pickup only. Landscaping services, as well as certain construction projects that meet mitigation standards, will be allowed. Fishing, hunting and golfing are also expected to be resumed by mid-May.

Phase two would expand outdoor activities, including camping and some sporting activities. Social gatherings with up to five people outside the household would also be allowed.

Inslee encouraged Washingtonians to remain patient during the phased approach.

"I would like to tell you that you would all be able to make reservations for June 1, but I cannot," Inslee said Friday. "We will have to continue to monitor, assess the data on a daily basis and adapt as conditions allow."

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Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced Friday that he would extend the state's stay-at-home orders until the end of May. John Moore/Getty

Some state Republicans have been critical of Inslee's coronavirus mitigation policies, claiming that a blanket policy was ineffective for some counties.

"A one-size-fits-all policy may have assisted with slowing the spread of the virus," wrote Republican State Representative Chris Gildon in a Friday letter to Inslee which was signed by roughly 50 lawmakers, "but now it will only prolong emotional and economic suffering across the state if continued in the same manner."

"We have capable elected officials and staff ideally situated in each county to take much of this tactical level decision making off your shoulders and allow you and your staff to focus on higher level strategy," the letter continued. "We believe it is time to let them do just that."

Newsweek reached out to the Washington State Republicans for comment.

Inslee's orders have also been the subject of protests with demonstrators gathering in front of the state Capitol building in Olympia in April. Included among the protesters were some Republican lawmakers.

"We're starting a rebellion in Washington," said Republican Representative Robert Sutherland during the protest. "We're not listening to this governor. We're taking our state back."

Inslee acknowledged in a statement that the coronavirus had made for "difficult and frustrating times," but said the statements from Republicans were "irresponsible."

"Comments in the news today by some Republican legislators calling for 'open rebellion,' claiming a 'deep state' plot and other radical statements are irresponsible and could needlessly lead to more people getting sick," Inslee wrote. "I hope Republican legislative leaders will speak out against such rhetoric from their members."

"I support free speech," Inslee continued. "But crowd counts or speeches won't determine our course. This isn't about politics. It can only be about doing what is best for the health of all Washingtonians."

Recent data from the Washington State Department of Health indicated a total of 14,327 positive confirmed cases in the state out of 193,981 tests.