On March 23, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee issued the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Proclamation (20‑25) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, the Proclamation was to be in effect through April 8, 2020. Despite Washington’s aggressive efforts to flatten the curve, on April 2, 2020, Governor Inslee announced his decision to extend the Proclamation through May 4, 2020. Therefore, non-essential businesses will not be allowed to operate until May 5, 2020.
During a press conference, Governor Inslee expressed that the health and welfare of citizens is the first step to recovering the economy. While there is some bipartisan agreement among lawmakers on his decision, key interest groups are lobbying the Governor to broaden his definition of essential businesses to include, for instance, residential construction, which is currently at a standstill, subject to certain exceptions discussed in his Memorandum dated March 25, 2020. However, for now, it appears that Governor Inslee’s extension will keep the same restrictive guidelines and exceptions in place.
In addition, Governor Inslee issued Proclamation 20-40, which delays the implementation of new state building codes from July 1 to November 1, 2020. The Proclamation explained that the Washington State Building Code Council (“SBCC”) requires additional time to conduct outreach, training, and otherwise prepare for implementation of the scheduled code amendments. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly constrained SBCC’s ability to prepare for the code changes. In addition, this Proclamation was targeted at addressing developers’ need for predictability as permit-related meetings are delayed due to public health risks.