Businesses in Washington state that don’t comply with ‘stay home’ order could have licenses revoked

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at a 2018 event in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Companies in Washington state that fail to comply with Gov. Jay Inslee’s “stay home” order could lose their business licenses. Inslee announced a range of new enforcement measures to compel businesses and individuals in the state to limit person-to-person exposure, a measure intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Inslee ordered all non-essential companies that can’t operate by telecommuting to shut down a week ago. The executive order requires Washingtonians to stay in their homes except for essential activities, including grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments. The governor said that while most people are complying with the order, local law enforcement officials have received thousands of calls reporting gatherings and other suspected violations of the rules.

“These people who are calling us are very concerned about their health, and the health of others, and how the actions of folks who aren’t on the team are putting so many people at risk,” Inslee said during the press conference.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and several police chiefs joined Inslee to announce the enforcement measures. Citations, suspended permits, and revoked business licenses are measures state and local officials may use to enforce the order. Inslee is asking residents to report suspected violations of the order on the state’s coronavirus website.

Last week, the Bellevue Police Department launched a tool that allows residents to report gatherings on a heat map. Police Chief Steve Mylett said the site would allow police to educate residents who violate the order but would not be used to charge or arrest anyone.

Inslee said he’s had discussions with leaders in the technology industry about finding creative solutions to the challenges Washington faces in its response to the virus outbreak. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is exploring whether his supply chain can provide more ventilators for Washington and Inslee praised the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for funding research on the coronavirus.

“Bill Gates has been super in understanding the need for testing and we had some ideas about how to maximize that,” Inslee said.

The stay home order will remain in effect until at the earliest April 6. Inslee says the rules could be extended depending on how aggressively the virus continues to spread. There are 4,483 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington as of Monday and 198 deaths associated with the virus.

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