Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday that Washington state will provide $550 payments to 94,555 unemployed Washingtonians who were receiving Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which lapsed at midnight Saturday.
Inslee Announces Eviction
Gov. Jay Inslee announced last Wednesday he will extend the eviction moratorium to March 31, 2021. The current eviction moratorium was going to expire on Dec. 31.
"COVID-19 has had a significant financial impact on Washingtonians over the last nine months," Inslee said. "I know this moratorium has been critical for many families and individuals as they cope with the impacts of this virus. People need certainty about whether the moratorium will be extended, and it is important that I provide that certainty today while we work out the final details of the moratorium."
Federal Funds Helped Washington
Communities, Families Fight COVID
Over the past nine months, Washington state has distributed more than $2.1 billion to orchestrate ongoing, significant relief efforts across multiple sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic -- a public health crisis affecting more aspects of life than most people have ever experienced.
This funding was Washington's share of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). It is just a portion of the roughly $7.6 billion the federal government has sent to help the state respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and recover from the economic fallout. The federal government has provided grants directly to state and local governments, hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care providers, health care providers, colleges and universities, food assistance programs and many other programs.
"Families, businesses and communities have and will continue to benefit from state and federal dollars that bolster economic and financial relief for millions," Gov. Jay Inslee said. "We know more is coming from the federal government which is great news and I am pleased that our state agencies worked so hard to get this money into communities throughout Washington. This funding has buoyed businesses and supported those whose finances and health have been deeply impacted by this virus. We know the need is great and will continue well into the coming year, but these funds are helping right now."
State agencies have used the funds to provide support services that include housing, food, grants, business assistance and medical needs across Washington. Inslee's budget office worked with legislative leaders to decide how to best distribute the state's CARES Act funding.
Federal Pandemic Relief Bill Could
Provide Lifeline to Media Outlets
Under the latest COVID-19 stimulus legislation passed by Congress, local newspapers and TV and radio stations that have lost much of their advertising revenues during the pandemic could apply for so-called Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. This second round of PPP loans is open to many media outlets that weren't eligible for the first round.
Proclamations on Travel Restrictions,
Updates on Existing Religious Guidance
Gov. Jay Inslee issued (Dec. 21) a 14-day quarantine requirement for anyone returning to Washington state after visiting the United Kingdom, South Africa and other countries where a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, 501Y.V, has been circulating.
Health experts believe this new variant may be more transmissible than other variants. The order applies to anyone who has been present in these countries within the prior 14 days. An individual is permitted to leave quarantine to perform certain essential activities (for example, seek medical treatment), provided that they avoid public transportation and ride-share services, wear a facial covering, separate themselves from other people to the greatest extent reasonably possible, and follow other appropriate social distancing measures. All individuals who are impacted by this order are strongly encouraged to be tested within seven days of returning to Washington.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy
Gov. Inslee also updated Proclamation 20-25 and related guidance for houses of worship, weddings, and funerals. Currently, houses of worship are permitted to hold indoor services with up to 25 percent room capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer.
The 200 person maximum attendance cap is being removed in response to the December 15, 2020 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v. Sisolak, which struck down Nevada's 50-person attendance caps, interpreting the Supreme Court's decision in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo to represent a 'seismic shift in Free Exercise law.'
Because Gov. Inslee believes the attendance cap will help save lives, he is converting the required 200-person cap to a recommended cap. The Governor recognizes and respects that it is the role of the courts to say what the law is. The Governor does not intend to re-impose mandatory numerical caps specific to religious services unless the Ninth Circuit or the Supreme Court clarifies the state of the law. Other minor modifications are made to align the guidance documents and the proclamation related to music and singing.