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(The Center Square) — Serving up a cold drink and a hot meal has never been harder for Washington entrepreneurs over the course of Gov. Jay Inslee’s evolving public health orders.

Effective Thursday, Inslee has banned all indoor service at taverns, breweries, wineries, and distilleries in all phases of reopening. Last call is 10 p.m.

Table sizes for restaurants in Phase 3 counties are capped at five people and total occupancy to 50 percent.

One Washington business group says that while reopening the economy is critical, so is getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control. 

“It likely means the end of some of our favorite places in Washington,” said Washington Hospitality Association President and CEO Anthony Anton. “We’re frustrated that so much of our economy is at risk and disappointed in the announcement. To save our small businesses, we must beat this virus. Wear a mask today.”

For one eastern Washington bar owner, the orders are necessary for controlling the pandemic, even if it means putting a strain on business.

“It’s not easy,” said Deb Green, owner of Durkin’s Liquor Bar in Spokane. “The tougher the guidelines, the slower the business is. We support him and we just want this to go away.”

For another western Washington bar, Inslee isn't thinking enough about how hard hit small business owners have been by his state orders.

“I understand where he’s coming from,” said Tracy, manager of the Just Left Pub and Grill in Lynnwood. “However, he's making mandates that are unenforceable and putting industries out of business without even thinking about it.”

Susan Wright, president of Wrightway Hospitality and the owner of Scooter’s Bar and Grill in Longview, said Inslee’s ever-changing health orders are inconsiderate to small business owners.

“He’s got everybody dancing through hoops,” Wright said. “Now you have to do this. Now you have to do that. Well, who’s got the money to do all that when you’re out of business?”

For Wright, an entrepreneur in the business for the past 12 years, Inslee is just playing politics in an appeal to liberal voters while "crippling the food and beverage industry."

“My bar is not a liberal stronghold," Wright said. "And if we were liberal before, we are not now.”

Inslee previously extended his halt on further phased reopening last week and has said another stay-at-home order is on the table should COVID-19 cases keep climbing.

The Washington State Hospital Association reported 780 new COVID-19 cases in the state as of Wednesday, with the total COVID-19 case count at 54,985 and 1,555 deaths.

Staff Reporter

Tim Gruver is a politics and public policy reporter. He is a University of Washington alum and the recipient of the 2017 Pioneer News Award for Reporting. His work has appeared in Politico, the Kitsap Daily News, and the Northwest Asian Weekly.