Clarification: Hunger relief efforts are allowed under the Governor’s Proclamations

  • March 21, 2020

This message is designed to provide clarity in understanding Gov. Inslee’s intent with regard to several emergency orders he issued over the past few days.

Specifically, this bulletin will clarify the intent of the governor’s emergency orders with regard to hunger relief efforts.

  • In Proclamation 20-13, Governor Inslee imposed restrictions on restaurants and other food/beverage services.  This order was intended to limit the dense congregating of people in restaurants, bars, dining halls, and other settings in which food/beverages are served.  Gov. Inslee expressly prohibited dine-in settings and exempted drive-through, take-out and grab-and-go options because those options do not pose the same transmission threats as does dining in.
    • Meal Programs – As to Proclamation 20-13, the governor views meal programs as akin to restaurants.  Meal programs may operate so long as they limit service to drive-through, take-out, and grab-and-go options.
    • Food Banks/Pantries – The governor exempted grocery stores from Proclamation 20-13, and food banks/pantries are intended to be treated similarly to grocery stores, where people obtain food supplies and then disperse.  Though these establishments may continue to operate, they must strive to limit the spread of COVID-19 by enforcing social distancing, sanitizing, hand-washing and other CDC/DOH guidelines.
  • In Proclamation 20-14, the governor prohibited gatherings of people for social, spiritual, or recreational activities, again to limit congregating and the transmission of COVID-19.
    • Churches – Though Proclamation 20-14 prohibits certain social, spiritual, or recreational gatherings, churches may continue to be open to provide services to the public, including food programs, as long as those programs comply with Proclamation 20-13, e.g., grab-and-go or take-out options.  Providing human services is viewed as distinguishable from its social, spiritual, or recreational activities.
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