New restrictions for COVID-19

By Lynnette Hoffman

COVID-19 is back in full force with numbers being the highest we have seen. Nationally, we have seen numbers increase in the tune of 150,000+ cases per day. Washington State topped 2900 cases on November 12. With the increase in cases comes new restrictions. Unfortunately, the new restrictions will impact several of our local businesses. Please continue to support them as much as possible, it's tough times for everyone.

The new restrictions are very similar to the old ones, they will last for 4 weeks. Indoor social gatherings with people outside your home are now prohibited. If you are outside, you can congregate in groups of no more than five with social distancing and masks. This is for individuals.

Restaurants and bars will be closed for indoor dining again, but outdoor dining and takeout is still allowed. The table size for outside seating is five. These will affect every local restaurant and bar, please support if you can.

Fitness facilities and gyms are closed, outdoor fitness classes are still allowed but limited to outdoor gathering limits. Bowling centers are closed except for outdoor activities. Retail facilities are restricted to 25% of capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Weddings and funerals, receptions are prohibited but ceremonies are limited to no more than 30 people.

Churches are limited to 25%, no choir, band, or ensemble perform during the service. Soloists are permitted to perform. Facial coverings must be worn at all times and no congregational singing. The government is now restricting if you can sing with a mask or not.

Professional services are limited to 25% of occupancy. The Governor asked that if you can work from home, please do so.

Long Term care facilities, which have been impacted the most in Lewis County, can only have visitors outside. If you have a family member in a long-term care facility this has been extremely hard on the seniors.

The rules do not affect the school system, they are exempt from the new restrictions. They should follow the current guidelines that have been set by their public health official.

The cases have been increasing for some time, the highest recorded deaths were in April with 43 in Washington, where they had less than 750 active daily cases. Since then, October 26, 2020, had 31 deaths with 1159 cases. Approximately 2,748,782 tests have been administered with 132,001 testing positive, a 4% positive rate. The death rate in Washington state is just under 2% of positive cases.

With the cases rising and new restrictions in place, we are in basic lockdown once again. This lockdown is to be for 4 weeks, right up to Christmas.