Washington governor cancels Thanksgiving, Michigan governor clamps down harder on COVID-19 restrictions

Washington Governor Jay Inslee canceled Thanksgiving for his state’s residents. New statewide restrictions come into place tonight at 11:59 p.m. and last through Dec. 14. Restaurants face new restrictions on Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. He justifies the strong action by pointing to a spike in coronavirus cases.

The amount of cases rivals the coronavirus outbreak last March in Washington. The state reported over 2,000 cases a day over the weekend and average coronavirus cases in the state have doubled in the past two weeks. Inslee knows the increased statewide restrictions will mean people will lose their jobs.

“This spike puts us in a more dangerous a position as we were in March,” Inslee said during a press conference Sunday. “And it means, unfortunately, the time has come to reinstate restrictions on activities statewide to preserve the public’s well-being, and to save lives. These were very difficult decisions that have very real consequences to people’s livelihoods. I recognize that and don’t take those impacts lightly, but we must act now and act quickly to slow the spread of this disease.”

The orders shut down any indoor dining at restaurants but they are allowed to offer to-go orders. Outdoor dining is allowed if social distancing is in place with no more than five people per table. All retail stores, including grocery stores, are limited to 25% occupancy. No lingering in seated areas is allowed. Keep moving. Religious services are limited to 25% occupancy, too, or no more than 200 people. Everyone must mask-up and there will be no choir, band, or ensemble performances permitted during services.

But, wait, there’s more.

In addition, all business meetings are prohibited. Only professional training and testing that cannot be done remotely is allowed will be allowed. Occupancy for meetings is limited to 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Professional services must allow employees to work from home when possible and close offices to the public. If offices must remain open, occupancy is restricted to 25%.

Gyms will be prohibited from offering indoor services, though outdoor fitness classes can continue as long as they don’t exceed five people in a group. Meanwhile, entertainment venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, museums and zoos will all be banned from offering indoor service, though drive-in theatres will still be allowed to operate under previously laid out restrictions. Long-term care facilities can only offer outdoor visits, with exceptions for end-of-life care.

Weddings and funeral receptions will be limited to no more than 30 people and youth and adult sports must be held outside only with all athletes wearing masks. Personal services, such as barbershops and salons, are also limited to 25% capacity and real estate open houses are prohibited

That is a whole lot of rules, right? This pandemic sure has released some strong authoritarian behavior from state and local officials. Sometimes it seems like they are pulling numbers out of the air. Why choose a 5 person limit at a restaurant table, for example? Would it jeopardize the health of everyone in the establishment if a family with 4 children wanted to dine indoors, making it a table for 6 people?

Now, about Thanksgiving – sorry, but he’s canceled it. Washington residents can only enjoy the holiday with those with whom they live. The only people allowed into your home for Thanksgiving dinner are those who have self-quarantined for two weeks and test negative for the virus. The question arises – who is monitoring all of this? Are state health officials going door to door to check if everyone inside a house is COVID-free and/or lives there? It all sounds a lot like show us your papers, doesn’t it?

None of this applies to K-12 education or higher education settings.

Inslee said that the state would commit $50 million in aid to help ease the financial impact on businesses and employees. He also said that businesses can apply for forgivable loans through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. That will be cold comfort to a business that is already struggling to hang on during the plague. Cutting through government red tape and the process of applying for a PPP loan can take some time which those small businesses may not have.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is banning in-person high school and college classes as of Wednesday. She is also banning indoor dining service on Wednesday. The bans will last for three weeks. She is also banning public events at venues like concert halls, casinos, movie theaters, and skating rinks. The colder weather brings people indoors and Michigan is seeing an increase of cases. She warns that Michigan could soon see 1,000 deaths per week from the coronavirus. In-home gatherings will be limited to 10 people from no more than two households. Whitmer said, “We are in the worst moment of this pandemic to date,” she told a news conference. “The situation has never been more dire. We are at the precipice and we need to take some action.”

White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas pushed back on Governor Whitmer’s orders. His advice to Michigan residents was not appreciated by Whitmer. His use of words wasn’t helpful, given the tense political atmosphere we find ourselves in today across the country.

White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas reacted to the Michigan orders by urging state residents on Twitter here to “rise up” against them. After this drew criticism from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Atlas said he “NEVER was talking at all about violence.”

Next up will be Christmas. I think CNN’s Jake Tapper already canceled Christmas yesterday during his interview with Dr. Fauci.

Dr. Fauci, who serves as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that even with widespread distribution of a vaccine, the public “can’t abandon fundamental public health measures,” specifically social distancing and mask-wearing.

“You can approach a degree of normality while still doing some fundamental health things that synergize with the vaccine to get us back to normal,” Fauci said.

Tapper noted that based on Dr, Fauci’s recommendations, which are expected to extend into the “the second or third” quarter of 2021, “Christmas is probably not gonna be possible.”

Bah, humbug.

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