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Legal Alert: Governor Inslee’s Stay Home – Stay Healthy Proclamation: What it means for your nonprofit or business

On March 25th, 2020 Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued the “Stay Home- Stay Healthy” Proclamation. This order became effective as of midnight, Wednesday, March 25th, 2020, through midnight April 6th, 2020.

Governor Inslee’s Stay Home – Stay Healthy Proclamation addresses both business activities and individual activities. Essentially, unless necessary for food, health care, or other “essential activities,” everyone, in Washington, must stay home.  We have summarized the restrictions for business activities and individual activities below.

Business Activities

The Proclamation distinguishes between “essential businesses” and “non-essential businesses.” These restrictions apply to both nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses.

Essential Businesses

  • Essential businesses are encouraged to remain open so long as social-distancing and sanitation measures can be implemented. Those businesses are expected to comply with specific OSHA guidance and the State Department of Health recommendations. 
  • Essential businesses include emergency services, health care, critical manufacturing, childcare providers, grocery stores, financial services, and more.  Some nonprofits will fall within the definition of “essential businesses,” but many will not.  
  • Please review the complete list of essential businesses as defined by the Proclamation to determine whether your nonprofit or business qualifies as an essential or non-essential business.

Non-Essential Businesses

  • Non-essential businesses may perform minimum basic operations, which is defined as “minimum activities necessary to maintain the value of the business’ inventory, preserve the condition of the business’ physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll, and employee benefits, facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences, and related functions.”
  • Non-essential businesses may conduct business activities if they are performed at the employees’ or contractors’ home and the employees/contractors do not engage in in-person contact with clients.  

Individual Activities

All people in Washington State must not leave their homes except for “essential activities” and/or employment for “essential business services.” Please see the Proclamation for definition of “essential activities.”

The Proclamation also prohibits individuals from participating in social or recreational activities, gatherings, fundraisers, conventions, galas, weddings, faith-based meetings, funeral events, and other similar activities. If you want to understand what it means to stay “at home” for yourself or family members, please see Washington State’s guide on what it means to stay at home. 

Lastly, counties, cities, and towns are responsible for establishing and maintaining local emergency management services/organizations, plans, and programs in accordance with state regulations. Therefore, additional local laws or rules may apply to individuals, local laws or rules may be more restrictive than Governor Inslee’s Washington State Stay Home- Stay Healthy Proclamation Order. Check your county, city or town’s response to Covid-19. For example, some cities may impose criminal sanctions on noncompliant individuals.


Please note that this legal alert is general legal information and not legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. If your organization needs legal advice, contact us for information on how to apply for services or find our applications for legal services on the Wayfind site.