FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2020
Greetings members of the Washougal Community. The situation regarding our national and state response to COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. Earlier today, Governor Inslee announced new measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. In response, the City of Washougal is taking additional steps to contain the spread of coronavirus as well as preparing for further actions as they are needed. We understand and empathize with the continuing and growing anxiety and uncertainty of how, or when, COVID-19 will evolve in our region and what the response will be if an outbreak does occur here.
To limit the potential for additional COVID-19 exposure to our city personnel, customers and community, all City facilities will be closed to the public through April 30, 2020. This timeframe may be extended or shortened depending upon how the COVID-19 situation unfolds. This measure to increase social distancing practices is being taken in response to ongoing guidance from health officials regarding the necessary actions to stop the spread of COVID-19. The City is still open for business during this closure. Please see the attached document for information about how you can access City services.
The City continues to closely monitor the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and implement appropriate actions in response to this rapidly changing issue. We are following the lead and guidance of Clark County Public Health and working alongside Clark County Public Health and CRESA (Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency) and surrounding partner municipalities to implement coordinated response and communication. These closures are consistent with actions being taken by other cities in Clark County.
The risk of exposure is increasing for people who live in our region. Health agency experts, including the World Health Organization, recommend social distancing measures be deployed to contain the spread in communities, not to specifically prevent illness, but rather to slow down the rate at which people get sick. These closures further our collective efforts in this regard.
Today, in coordination with Clark County Public Health, I have issued a second Emergency Order for the City of Washougal. This follows similar orders made by the Governor and other cities in Clark County.
Effective March 17, 2020 through April 30, 2020 the City will implement a series of changes in operations and services as further preventative measures to limit the spread of coronavirus among our employees and the community. The updated list including measures from the March 13, 2020 Order and the March 16, 2020 Order include:
- Closure of all City facilities to the public (March 16, 2020 Order)
- Directing department directors to evaluate opportunities for City employees to telework or work alternate work schedules (March 16, 2020 Order)
- Cancellation of all City-permitted and sponsored public events (March 16, 2020 Order updated from the March 13, 2020 order which cancelled City-permitted events with planned or forecasted attendance of 250 or above).
- Suspension of all non-essential public meetings. (March 13, 2020 Order)
- Suspension or modification of all programming that caters to vulnerable populations. (March 13, 2020 Order)
- Suspension of non-essential travel and training (including where trainers are brought in from outside the organization). (March 13, 2020 Order)
- Modification of water shutoff policies to assure sanitation resources in homes. (March 13, 2020 Order)
- Enhanced sanitation of all public buildings and facilities. (March 13, 2020 Order)
- Encouraging symptom awareness and asking employees to stay home if they are sick. (March 13, 2020 Order)
- At this time, scheduled City Council meetings will continue to occur, but with social distancing modifications including increased space between chairs and encouraging the public to view by livestream at this link. In the event the decision is made to cancel in-person City Council meetings, we will plan to allow for Council meetings to be conducted via teleconference, including the ability of the public to participate in some manner. (March 13, 2020 Order)
Today, Governor Inslee announced a two-week ban on any food or beverage service, regardless of location, that provides or allows on-site consumption. The ban will not apply to grocery stores and pharmacies. The ban includes, but is not limited to:
- Food courts
- Bars and taverns
- Wine, beer and spirits tasting venues
- Doughnut shops and ice cream parlors
- Coffee shops
- Sit down airport restaurants and bars
Governor Inslee also included entertainment, leisure and non-essential services in today’s emergency proclamation. The ban includes, but is not limited to:
- Bowling alleys
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Non-tribal card rooms
- Art galleries
- Tattoo parlors
- Barbers, hair salons and nail salons
He also announced that the ban on public gatherings of 250 people or more will be decreased in size to prohibit all events of 50 or larger statewide. Additionally, all gatherings with under 50 participants are prohibited unless criteria from the CDC for public health and social distancing are met. It is in this context that all City-permitted and sponsored public events are cancelled.
Governor Inslee is also expecting businesses to ensure adequate environmental cleaning of stores and is requiring that stores designate an employee or officer to implement a social distancing plan for their business.
Once again, grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open under the emergency proclamation. He also is encouraging all of us to be conscientious of the broader community with our shopping for supplies and food. “The supply chain is strong,” Inslee said. “Grocery stores will continue operating and providing services to Washingtonians. There is no need to hoard food or supplies. Everyone needs to only buy what they need, and they need to remember when they overbuy, those things are taken away from their neighbors and others who need them now.”
The situation continues to change rapidly and our response will continue to evolve and change accordingly. We will share additional information and updates as they are available. In the meantime, information on the state and regional response can be found on the following websites:
These new measures ordered today by the Governor, Washougal and cities across Clark County are impactful, but are necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. We encourage everyone to consistently practice the hygienic and social distancing measures recommended by Clark County Public Health and the CDC. It is vitally important that we all stay informed, stay calm and work together to keep our community safe and healthy and reduce the spread of the virus in our region. On behalf of the Mayor, Council and staff at the City, we extend our thanks to the Washougal community for rising to the occasion.