Coronavirus: Washington governor announces strict enforcement measures for stay-at-home order

Coronavirus: Washington governor announces strict enforcement measures for stay-at-home order
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and other leaders speak to the press in Seattle, Washington. (Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

SEATTLE — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced new enforcement plans Monday to ensure businesses are complying with the state’s emergency measures put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had thousands of calls coming in” about people and businesses not complying with the stay-at-home order announced last week, Inslee said at a news conference.

The state will begin by asking businesses to comply voluntarily, but penalties could be imposed if the noncompliance continues.

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Inslee outlined three tiers to the reporting:

  1. Violators of the order will be notified that they need to comply
  2. Citations and suspension of licenses can be issued, including business licenses
  3. Law enforcement will pass these complaints along to the state attorney general’s office

“Our goal is 100 percent voluntary compliance,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. Ferguson emphasized that he will use enforcement powers if people intentionally violate the order.

Inslee asks people to use their best judgment before reporting, and to not call 911, instead directing citizens to use the non-emergency lines.

“These are local decisions,” Inslee emphasized. “We’re not going to tell law enforcement how to do their jobs.”

Inslee’s Monday announcements came as crews began setting up a 150-bed field hospital for non-COVID 19 patients at CenturyLink Field Event Center.