This timeline shows Washington State closures, occupancy rules, and reopening dates that affected the hospitality industry during the coronavirus pandemic. Operators will find useful information if they are applying for Employee Retention Tax Credits (ERTC) and more. View expanded image
Occupancy rules and proclamations 2020 – 2021
Feb. 29, 2020: Governor Inslee declares a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
March 11, 2020: Emergency proclamation limiting large events in Snohomish, King County (250 max)
March 13, 2020: Statewide expansion of 250-person maximum ban for large events
March 16, 2020: Full closure for on-site service (takeout and delivery allowed)
March 23, 2020: Inslee signs Stay Home, Stay Healthy order which requires every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity.
May 12, 2020: Counties with no new coronavirus cases and less than 75k residents can have restricted indoor dining. A 25% capacity limit and other restrictions apply.
May 29, 2020: Inslee announces Safe Start Program with four phases with varying rules and methods for each county. Counties differ in allowances from now until Jan. 2021, but 25% occupancy is allowed in most cases as a baseline.
June 5, 2020: Pierce and Snohomish counties move to Phase 2, which allows 25% occupancy in restaurants. King goes to a modified Phase 1, and 14 other counties move into Phase 3.
June 23, 2020: Statewide mask mandate – guidance clarifying use in restaurants issued on July 7.
June 27, 2020: All counties barred from moving to Phase 4.
July 2, 2020: All counties cannot advance beyond their current phase. Bar service is removed from phase 3. Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties can enter a modified phase 1 which allows outdoor seating at 50% capacity.
July 30, 2020: Indoor dine-in for tables at restaurants limited to members of the same household, and restaurants must close any game areas (like pool and darts). Alcohol service cutoff at 10 p.m. and indoor bar service is prohibited. Both bars and restaurants can serve people from the same family inside at 50% capacity.
Aug. 6, 2020: For weddings and events, maximum capacity set at 20% or 30 people, whichever is fewer. Six feet of social distance maintained at all times.
Oct. 6, 2020: Alcohol cutoff moves from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. for Phases 2 and 3. Indoor household member restriction for indoor dining eliminated. Additionally, the guidelines allow for the increase of table size to six in Phase 2 and eight in Phase 3. Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties remain in modified phase 1.
Nov. 13, 2020: Inslee announces travel advisory encouraging Washingtonians to avoid non-essential travel, asking out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days
Nov. 18, 2020: Restaurants and bars close again for indoor dining. Takeout service and outdoor dining allowed with limitations — no more than five people per table and adhering to current guidelines on outdoor dining capacity.
Jan. 11, 2021: Inslee signs proclamation 20-25.12 Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery. All counties enter Phase 1 of the region-specific plan. Phase 1 prohibits indoor dining and allows outdoor dining, but alcohol service and delivery must end by 11pm. Table sizes are limited to six and there is a maximum of two households per table allowed. Indoor wedding receptions remained prohibited and ceremonies are limited to a total of no more than 30 people.
Feb. 13, 2021: All but western Washington counties move to Phase 2 and allowed to operate at 25% indoors. Tables must still be kept at 6-foot distances, maximum six people per table and two households per table. Alcohol service ends at 11 p.m. The counties that were held back at phase 1 were: Kittitas, Yakima, Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla and Columbia counties.
March 22, 2021: All counties move to Phase 3 of the latest reopening plan. Indoor dining to increase from 25% to 50% capacity. In addition, table size limits increase from six to 10 people maximum (with no same household rule). Sales of alcohol extended from 11 p.m. to midnight.
April 12, 2021: Pierce, Whitman and Cowlitz counties move back to Phase 2; all other counties in Phase 3 allowing restaurants to operate at 50%
May 13, 2021: All counties move to Phase 3. Governor Inslee declares the state will fully reopen by June 30, 2021, or when 70% of Washingtonians over the age of 16 get their first vaccination, whichever is sooner.