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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Governor's Proclamations and State Guidance

This page lists selected coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency proclamations issued by Governor Inslee that are relevant to government agencies in Washington State, as well as additional guidance from the Attorney General's Office and other state agencies.

It is part of MRSC's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Local Governments series.

Note: These proclamations and resources have been selected by MRSC to address the most common issues faced by local governments during the COVID-19 crisis. For the complete list of Gov. Inslee's proclamations, see the governor's Proclamations page. You can also access additional information regarding the state's response at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Latest Updates

To help you keep track of the rapidly changing situation related to COVID-19, here is a summary of recent changes to this page:

Tuesday, June 2

  • The state Attorney General's Office issued its Fifth Updated Open Public Meetings Act Guidance, reflecting the extension of most OPMA suspensions and prohibitions through June 17 and the removal of the prohibition on taking "action" at meetings subject to OPMA. 

Monday, June 1

  • The Open Public Meetings Act suspensions and prohibitions have been extended through 11:59 PM on June 17 (see the state legislative leadership's authorization letter and Proclamation 20-28.4). There is one change from prior OPMA proclamations: there is no longer a restriction on what "action" a governing body may take at a meeting.
  • The existing Public Records Act statutory waivers and suspensions have been extended through 11:59 PM on June 17 (see the state legislative leadership's authorization letter, and Proclamation 20-28.4). Note that all public records requests received electronically must be responded to within five business days.
  • Proclamation 20-23.4 extends the prohibitions on utility disconnections and late fees through July 28 and requires all utilities providing energy, telecommunications, and water services to develop COVID-19 Customer Support Programs, consistent with the state guidance document, and prominently post the programs on a public website by July 10.
  • The annual financial reporting deadline has been extended to 11:59 PM on June 17 (see the state legislative leadership's authorization letter, recognized by the governor in Proclamation 20-34.3). While the State Auditor's Office had requested a longer extension, State Auditor Pat McCarthy says "at this time we do not expect further extensions of the deadline."
  • Proclamation 20-25.4 extends Proclamation 20-25 through 11:59 PM on July 1 and amends the original "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order to transition to a county-by-county phased re-opening plan entitled "Safe Start, Stay Healthy."

Governor’s Emergency Authority

The governor has the authority to issue emergency proclamations under RCW 43.06.220, which has several different subsections.

The governor has sole authority to issue and extend emergency proclamations under RCW 43.06.220(1), which includes “[s]uch other activities as he or she reasonably believes should be prohibited to help preserve and maintain life, health, property or the public peace.” For instance, the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order (Proclamation 20-25) and its subsequent extensions and amendments were issued under RCW 43.06.220(1).

The governor also has the authority to issue emergency proclamations under RCW 43.06.220(2), which includes waiving or suspending statutory obligations or limitations. However, these proclamations are limited to 30 days and can only be extended beyond 30 days by concurrent resolution of the legislature, or by the legislative leadership (majority and minority leaders of both houses) if the legislature is not in session.

An emergency proclamation issued under both subsections may require action from both the governor and the legislature (or its leadership) to extend all provisions of the proclamation beyond 30 days. If the legislature does not agree, the portion of the declaration issued under RCW 43.06.220(2) expires after 30 days while the portion issued under RCW 43.06.220(1) remains in effect until terminated by the governor.


"Safe Start, Stay Healthy" Order and Phased Re-Opening

Governor's Office


Public Health

Department of Health


Employee Leave, Benefits, and Unemployment

Governor's Office

  • Proclamation 20-46 (April 13) – Providing employment protections to high-risk public and private employees through 11:59 PM on June 12. Addresses alternative work arrangements, leave options, health insurance protections, and other issues. Also prohibits employers from applying or enforcing any employment contract provisions that contradict or interfere with these provisions.

Fraudulent unemployment benefit claims: Criminal actors are taking advantage of the coronavirus and unemployment crisis. Government employees have been targeted and have received what looks like legitimate ESD benefit claimant letters in the mail. Unemployment claims are also being made to their employing organization. For more information, see our blog post Unemployment Claims Fraud Rises During COVID-19 Pandemic.

Employment Security Department

  • COVID-19 Information – Includes separate Q&As for workers and employers, FAQs on the federal CARES Act stimulus legislation, email alerts, links to ESD emergency rules and rulemaking documents, and more.
  • COVID-19 Scenarios and Benefits Available – Helpful chart showing which leave scenarios are covered by paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, paid family and medical leave, and industrial insurance
  • Unemployment Benefits Fraud – Information on how employers and employees can report fraudulent unemployment claims

Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA)

Governor's Office

Attorney General's Office

  • Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) General Guidance Regarding Coronavirus (March 6) – Issued prior to the stay-at-home order and Proclamation 20-28; reflects the normal Open Public Meetings Act requirements.
    • "First Update" Supplemental Guidance (March 26) – Amends the initial March 6 guidance to reflect the OPMA suspensions and prohibitions in Proclamation 20-28 for the duration of the proclamation.
    • “Second Update” Guidance (April 24) – No changes except for extending the March 26 guidance to May 4 to reflect Proclamation 20-28.1.
    • “Third Update” Guidance (May 6) – No changes except for extending the March 26 OPMA guidance to May 31 and extending the Public Records Act five-day response provision to May 11, to reflect Proclamation 20-28.2.
    • “Fourth Update” Guidance (May 14) – One minor change extending the Public Records Act five-day response provision to May 31, except for records requests received electronically which now must be responded to within five business days, to reflect Proclamation 20-28.3.
    • "Fifth Update" Guidance (June 1) – Extending the March 26 OPMA guidance to June 17 and updating the provisions regarding taking "action" at meetings, to reflect Proclamation 20-28.4.

Public Records Act (PRA)

Governor's Office


Financial Reporting and CARES Act Reimbursement

Governor's Office

State Auditor's Office

Department of Commerce


Utilities

Governor's Office

  • Proclamation 20-23 (March 18) and Proclamation 20-23.1 (March 24) – Strongly encouraging utilities to take reasonable actions to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on utility customers, including preventing shut-offs, waiving late fees, and using payment plans.
  • Proclamation 20-23.2 (April 17) – Through May 4, prohibits all energy, water, and telecommunications providers from (1) disconnecting residential service due to nonpayment, (2) refusing to reconnect residential customers who were disconnected due to nonpayment, and (3) charging late fees or reconnection fees.
    • Proclamation 20-23.3 (May 5) – Extends the prohibitions on disconnecting, refusing to reconnect, and charging late fees through May 31.
    • Proclamation 20-23.4 (May 29) – Extends the prohibitions on disconnecting, refusing to reconnect, and charging late fees through 11:59 PM on July 28 and also requires all utilities providing energy, telecommunications, and water services to develop COVID-19 Customer Support Programs, consistent with the state guidance document, and prominently post the programs on a public website by July 10.

Gift of Public Funds

Attorney General's Office


Eviction Moratoriums and Tenant Protections

Governor's Office

  • Proclamation 20-19 (March 18) – Statewide moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent, effective until April 17.
    • Proclamation 20-19.1 (April 16) – Extending and expanding the residential eviction restrictions until June 4; also prohibits rent increases or threats to increase rent for residential tenants and for commercial tenants who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. 

Planning and Development

Governor's Office

  • Proclamation 20-40 (April 2) – Delaying the effective date of State Building Code amendments from July 1, 2020 to November 1, 2020.

Information Technology and Telecommuting

WaTech


Last Modified: June 02, 2020