Building on the City’s Education and Outreach Efforts with Small Businesses, the City of Seattle Announces New Enforcement Measures for Businesses Failing to Comply with Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Plan After Outreach and Education
Pubic Health officials Continue to Urge Physical Distancing, Facial Coverings and Limiting Social Gatherings to Only 5 Individuals
Seattle (July 16, 2020) – Building off of the City’s recent announcement to increase education and outreach efforts, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced that the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) has issued a new public health and safety measure to help enforce state-mandated business requirements, including protective face coverings, social distancing and capacity limitations. For customers, residents or employees who have concerns about non-compliance, FAS will conduct outreach, provide education, and help to enforce Governor Inslee’s Safe Start plan in non-food business establishments across the city. Public Health – Seattle & King County has expanded efforts to educate and enforce protections in food establishments, with FAS in a supporting role.
A dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases has led Governor Inslee to issue a two-week pause in phased reopening efforts across the state. Governor Inslee also announced additional actions including limiting social gatherings and reiterated that social gatherings in King County are restricted to only five individuals. King County and the City of Seattle are partnering to improve education, and empower individuals to protect themselves, the Seattle community, and the region. King County is currently in Phase 2 of the Governor’s Safe Start Washington phased reopening plan.
“Seattle: our individual and collective actions in the coming weeks will be critical to not have to go back to Stay Home, Stay Healthy. Our region is seeing rising cases because of social gatherings like birthdays and celebrations, and individuals, not social distancing and not wearing masks. Every interaction matters to bend the curve in our region and state, so all of us need to stay six feet apart, limit participation to only five individuals in social gatherings, and mask up. Our businesses also must comply with public health guidance. By consistently practicing these mitigation measures, we can help the region move forward safely and responsibly while protecting our families, friends, and neighbors from COVID-19 exposure,” said Mayor Durkan. “For weeks, the City has been doing extensive outreach and education with our businesses on public health guidance. While the vast majority are complying with facial coverings and capacity restrictions and have made changes following outreach efforts, the City is prepared to take additional enforcement action against businesses that are egregiously and repeatedly violating state law and public health guidance.”
Effective immediately, FAS will begin implementing the new measure through the use of a Director’s Rule. Understanding the complexities of navigating the COVID-19 environment, the City’s focus is primarily to conduct outreach and education to help businesses comply with the new rule. With repeated and/or egregious offenses, businesses may have their City of Seattle business license suspended and may be charged with a crime that carries a maximum penalty of up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Individuals or employees who are concerned that businesses are not enforcing the face coverings mandate, practicing social distancing or adhering to occupancy limits, and other measures identified in the statewide order can use the Find It, Fix It app or online form or call 206-684-2489 (CITY) to report their concerns. Businesses can also learn more by visiting the FAS website.
“This rule is about public health and protecting the health and safety of our community,” said Calvin W. Goings, Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. “We view Seattle businesses as partners in this work and will focus our efforts on outreach and education on how to ensure patrons and employees stay safe and healthy.” The City previously launched Phase 2 reopening toolkits to help small businesses authorized to reopen under the Governor's guidance navigate public health requirements and financial considerations. The toolkits provide critical information for small business owners, including a reopening checklist, resources to access Personal Protective Equipment and financial assistance, testing information, and rent and commercial lease assistance. The City has toolkits for the following industries:
The toolkits are available on the City's new reopening website and are translated into Amharic, Chinese, Korean, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
In recent days, Public Health has expanded efforts to educate and enforce compliance of Safe Start Washington within food establishments. To help organizations conduct business safely, Public Health will conduct spot checks and provide education on how to remain in compliance. In instances where guidance is not met, Public Health can close an establishment until modifications are made to protect the health and safety of the community. To report food establishments for non-compliance, contact the Public Health COVID-19 Business and Community Information Line at 206-296-1608.
If you are concerned that you have been exposed to COVID-19, the City has launched free Citywide drive-through testing at two sites in north and south Seattle. To register for testing, visit www.seattle.gov/covid-19-testing. If you need walk-up testing with ADA accommodations, please visit Public Health’s website or call 206-477-3977 for additional free testing sites and information. Most people can access testing through their regular health care provider.
Since the start of the pandemic, Mayor Durkan and the City of Seattle have implemented a series of programs that support artists, nonprofits, small businesses, workers, and our most vulnerable including:
Launching free Citywide testing sites at locations in north and south Seattle;
Announcing the Mayor’s plan to create 500 permanent homes to support neighbors experiencing chronic homelessness;
Launching the “Seattle Protects” marketplace to connect local manufacturers and businesses with those in need of cloth face coverings;
Launching the “Stay Healthy Streets” pilot program as an effective option for travel to essential services;
Creating and deploying Mobile Assessment Teams to test our most vulnerable in senior and long-term care establishments at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis;
Creating a PPE collection program that accumulated more than one million items that were distributed to first responders and frontline essential workers throughout the region;
Deferring utility payments for customers impacted by COVID-19;
Implementing a temporary moratorium on residential, small business, and nonprofit evictions to provide relief for working people financially impacted by COVID-19;
Creating temporary restaurant loading zones to facilitate curbside pickup at restaurants;
Creating a new Arts Recovery Package to provide immediate financial relief to artists and cultural organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19;
Providing rent relief to tenants of City-owned facilities;
Opening emergency child care classrooms to help hundreds of kids of essential workers;
Partnering with United Way of King County and King County to invest $5 million in rental assistance to help families stay in their homes; and
Launching the #SupportPugetSoundSmallBiz map to help residents find small businesses open for takeout and delivery in their neighborhood.
The City has also created a comprehensive resource page for residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.