Washington State Closes all Bars, Taprooms and Restaurants for On-Site Consumption During Covid-19 Pandemic

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announces the closure of bars and restaurants due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. (AP Photo:Rachel La Corte)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announces the closure of bars and restaurants due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. (AP Photo:Rachel La Corte)

Last evening, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced that he will sign a statewide emergency proclamation today, Monday, March 16th to temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities.

This government shutdown of privately owned businesses within the state of Washington only pertains for on-site activities by the public. Restaurants will continue to be allowed to serve take-out and offer off-site delivery. This ban will not affect grocery stores and pharmacies. Other retailers will have reduced occupancy, likely to 50 people or less due to the new guidelines set forth from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The state of Washington will join other states such as Illinois and Ohio that have also announced the pending closure of all bars, taprooms and restaurants for on-site consumption. California, our neighboring state to the south, has closed all bars.

So where does the state of Oregon stand on this? On Sunday evening, Kate Brown, Governor of Oregon, announced that she will host a press conference at 10:00am on Monday, March 16th and this topic will likely be addressed. Rumors have it that she will either do a similar shutdown as in Washington, a curfew or reduced occupancy. This morning’s press conference did not establish any curfew or shutdown as of now. Another update from the Governor may be be forthcoming this afternoon.

The potential for the severity of Covid-19 was exemplified last week. On Wednesday, March 11th, Governor Brown, announced that all gatherings of more than 250 people in Oregon will be canceled for the next four weeks. At the time she said schools should remain open as usual. Then the following evening Brown announced that all Oregon K-12 Public Schools would be closed from March 16 – March 31st.

Also during this time it was highly suggested to limit social interaction and to keep a safe social distance from others. What has been suggested is keeping a good six feet or so from others.

To exemplify the severity of this pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Sunday that it suggests preventing any gatherings of greater than 50 people for the next eight weeks. This means that any beer festival in the coming months will likely be canceled or postponed.

Over the weekend a few private businesses within the state of Oregon, mainly the Portland area, have voluntarily temporarily closed its doors. This list includes the ChefStable group of restaurants that includes Beer O’Clock, Lardo, Grassa, and KEX Hostel among others. A few breweries have also announced their temporary closure due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. These include Heater Allen, Modern Times Belmont Fermentorium, Great Notion Brewing, Little Beast Brewing, Lucky Labrador, and others as this list continues to grow. Many of these locations are offering food and beer to go but will not be open for on-site consumption.

Prior to the proposed ban announced last night in Washington, a few Seattle breweries had already announced its voluntary closure. A few of these breweries include Georgetown Brewing, Fremont Brewing and Reuben’s Brews. Though it was running rampant in the hospitality industry that this government closure was in the works.

Below is last night’s comment from Washington State Governor Jay Inslee…

“Given the explosion of COVID-19 in our state and globally, I will sign a statewide emergency proclamation tomorrow to temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities.  

“Restaurants will be allowed to provide take-out and delivery services but no in-person dining will be permitted. 

“The ban will not apply to grocery stores and pharmacies. Other retail outlets will have reduced occupancy.

“Additionally, all gatherings with over 50 participants are prohibited and all gatherings under 50 participants are prohibited unless previously announced criteria for public health and social distancing are met. 

“These are very difficult decisions, but hours count here and very strong measures are necessary to slow the spread of the disease. I know there will be significant economic impacts to all our communities and we are looking at steps to help address those challenges.

“Tonight, after consultations with me and with the Department of Health, King County announced that they will be taking these actions immediately. King County has been the hotbed of this outbreak and has the largest population center in the state. I have spoken to Executive Dow Constantine and I applaud their decision to act quickly. We will do a joint media announcement with more details tomorrow morning.” – Washington State Governor Jay Inslee

So how can one help these breweries and restaurants during this difficult time? One way is to purchase beer these brewery’s beer in the grocery stores or to purchase gift cards/gift certificates if these are available. But remember, it’s not out of the question that a few breweries may go under and shutter for good from this pandemic.

If you work in the bar or restaurant industry and will be faced with a financial hardship, USBG National Charity Foundation will offer relief efforts. To apply for this assistance or to donate to this charity please click here.

Remember to stay safe, take this Covid-19 Pandemic seriously and please look out for one another.