All nonessential businesses must close by Wednesday night for two weeks, as required by Gov. Jay Inslee’s temporary “stay home, stay healthy” order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Many kinds of “essential” businesses are exempt. They include: health care and public health; emergency services; food and agriculture; energy, such as oil refineries; water and wastewater; transportation and logistics, communications, media and information technology; critical government; critical manufacturing; finance; and defense.
Here is a partial list of businesses that can continue to operate, what isn’t allowed, and what some Skagit County businesses had to say.
What is allowed:
— Restaurants (for takeout and delivery only)
— Grocery stores, big box stores, farm stands
Snow Goose Produce Market on Fir Island will continue to operate its grocery store and produce stand, said co-owner Vico Rust.
“We feel super grateful that people are continuing to come here, and grateful we can provide our local community with a place for fresh food,” he said. “As the season progresses, we’ll have more vegetables and fruit. What we have, people are very grateful for — bread, cheese, milk and eggs.”
— Convenience stores, corner stores, gas stations
— Pet supply stores
— Auto supplies and repair
— Hardware and home improvement
— Office supply stores
— Home appliance retailers
— Garden stores and nurseries that support food production
Everett Chu, owner of Azusa Farm & Gardens west of Burlington, said the nursery has been less busy, but that customers are buying more per transaction.
”It’s an indication that people are serious and hunkering down, and they want their garden to look good to support them emotionally,” Chu said. “In this trying time, we need to see our garden prospering and producing. I do feel we are contributing. ... We intend to support and help people come out of the mess.”
He said the store is enforcing social distancing, and limiting person-to-person contact by having customers swipe or insert their credit cards themselves, and not requiring signatures on receipts.
— Health care facilities
— Veterinary hospitals and clinics
— Retail cannabis stores (considered a medical facility)
”(Business) has picked up a lot, actually,” said Perri Kitzman, general manager of High Society Cannabis in Anacortes. “This past week, we have done at least between 6% and 33% up from last year. (A lot of people are stressed), a lot of medical patients are stocking up on CBD products, a lot of bulk quantities, a lot of people are buying their legal limit when they come in.”
The state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) is allowing cannabis retailers to do curbside sales as of Tuesday. However, stores may not operate drive-thrus, and IDs will be checked to ensure everyone in the car is over the age of 21, according to an LCB letter sent to retail stores Tuesday.
— Construction projects
— Critical manufacturing
Janicki Industries, which employs about 700 combined in its Sedro-Woolley and Hamilton plants, has not scaled back operations due to COVID-19, said Steven Lynn, director of marketing.
”Janicki Industries is considered ‘essential’ because we do work for customers all over America that support our country,” he said in an email. “... We are implementing all the suggested protocols the (the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) has offered to prevent the spread of this virus. We monitor the situation closely to make changes as needed. Janicki Industries is very fortunate to have work lined up so we will not be affected much by the large drop off in the economy.”
He said employees who feel sick or unsafe can take paid or unpaid leave.
In Anacortes, Dakota Creek Industries, which does ship repair and construction, is considered “essential” because it works on defense contracts, such as for the Navy, but decided to mostly shut down its shipyard except for a “skeleton crew” to reduce the spread of the virus, said Mike Nelson, the company’s vice president.
He said the company, which employs 300, is shifting some to remote work, and keeping employees busy through online safety and environmental training sessions to do at home.
Not all manufacturers may be considered “essential.”
In Mount Vernon, Goodwinds Composites, which does composite manufacturing and employs 10, will shut down after Wednesday, said co-owner Leland Holeman.
He said the company studied the list of “essential” businesses and “looked for every reason to stay open.”
”We will be bumping things up as best we can to get all orders out (in the next day),” he said. “After that everyone will be leaving for two weeks, and we hope we can continue after that. We are going to continue to pay (employees).”
What isn’t allowed:
— On-site consumption of food and beverages, salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, nail salons, gyms, recreational facilities, theaters, movie theaters, social clubs, art galleries (all prohibited as of last week).
— Retail businesses such as bookstores and gift shops, which had been allowed to operate with limited capacity last week, must close their doors by Wednesday night.
However, it remains legal for businesses to sell goods online and deliver them, according to a spokesperson in Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.
Watermark Book Co. in Anacortes has closed its storefront, but is accepting online and phone orders, and offering delivery through the post office or the bookstore’s delivery person. Owners Brandy and Ben Bowen plan to run the business from inside their store, while keeping the doors closed to the public.
”This is the new norm right now,” Brandy Bowen said. “We’re just doing our best.”
Other Skagit County retailers reported last week they were expanding their online sales, or building e-commerce sites for the first time.
Restrictions on nonbusiness activities:
— Everyone must stay in their homes through April 6, except to obtain food, medicine and supplies, seek medical assistance, care for or transport a family or friend in another household for health or safety reasons.
— All social, spiritual or recreational gatherings of any size are banned
— No weddings or funerals
— Walking, running, hiking and biking are allowed, if proper social distancing is practiced
The full list of essential businesses, and more on the “stay home, stay healthy” order, can be found at governor.wa.gov.