(The Center Square) — Washington’s eviction moratorium will extend well beyond the summer and into the autumn, Governor Jay Inslee announced Thursday during a press briefing.
"This is meant to protect renters from falling into homelessness if they're struggling," Inslee said. "If you can pay rent, obviously, we need you to pay rent. This is for the folks who are really in tough times.”
The moratorium on evictions now extends to October 15. Tenants can still face eviction if the owner sells the property or occupies it for their own use.
Inslee said he is assembling a panel of tenants and landlords to evaluate further extensions to the moratorium and future rent increases that are currently on pause.
Around $100 million in CARES Act funds from the Department of Commerce will be disbursed to assist low-income renters soon, according to Inslee.
The prospect of mass evictions in the state could pose financial hardship for landlords and could spell disaster for the state's homeless shelters. States around the country face similar eviction crises.
As the COVID-19 cases spike across the state, Inslee also announced a long list of health restrictions on Thursday, stressing the state is not making adequate progress quelling the disease.
“Our suppression of this virus is not at the level it needs to be to continue … to allow more activity,” Inslee said. “If we let the virus get even more control, it will have even more devastating impact over the long-term in our economy, and certainly in our health and the very lives of our loved ones.”
The maximum indoor occupancy for wedding and funeral ceremonies is now 20 percent or up to 30 people, whichever is less, with social distancing of six feet. Weddings and funerals slated for the next two weeks are granted a grace period.
Washington residents must dine outdoors if they are not dining with members of their households. Table capacity for dining is limited to five people under Phase 3.
Restaurants are also required to close vending game areas like pool tables and video game booths until normal activity resumes under the state's Phase 4 guidelines.
Inslee extended his halt on Washington counties progressing beyond their current phases earlier this month.
Effective July 30, indoor service is no longer allowed at any bar in any phase of re-opening. Alcohol service now ends at 10 p.m.
In Phase 2, five people are allowed in fitness and athletic centers, not including staff. In Phase 3, fitness center occupancy is reduced to 25 percent. Fitness classes must be limited to 10 people, not including the instructor.
Indoor family recreation centers like bowling, card rooms, and arcades are barred until Phase 4. For Phase 3, indoor movie theater occupancy is limited at 25 percent.
Finally, face coverings must be worn in common and public areas such as elevators, hallways, hotels, universities, and assisted-living facilities. This change takes effect Saturday.
As of Wednesday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state stood at 50,009. The death toll stands at 1,482, according to the Washington Department of Health.