New online form to report potential business violators of 'Stay Home, Stay Healthy' order is now available
Last updated 4/2/2020 at 12:27pm
The state has created a one-stop online form for reporting businesses potentially violating the recent "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order and is providing guidance to local law enforcement on enforcing bans on gatherings of individuals.
Gov. Jay Inslee made the announcement Monday, March 30.
The state has created an online form to fill out specifically to report businesses in violation of the order. The form can be accessed at: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/09349a1c56844b539fea1c2cabd16d56
Many businesses are regulated by one or more state regulatory entities and the state will route the complaint to the appropriate agency for review.
Complaints about groups of individuals violating the order should be made to local law enforcement. Residents should contact their police departments directly and not call 911 to report gatherings.
Inslee was joined at the announcement by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, who helped develop the enforcement guidance along with other organizations representing local prosecutors and law enforcement. Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett and Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl joined the announcement remotely.
"Since I announced the 'Stay Home, Stay Healthy' order for our state, we have seen social distancing and other compliance from businesses and residents across Washington for the good of the public health," Inslee said. "But thousands of calls are also pouring in to state and local agencies from concerned residents, with reports that some individuals and businesses are not in compliance.
"These people are concerned about their health, the health of others, and how the actions of those who willfully violate this order may ultimately drag out the COVID-19 crisis even longer."
The order does not mean more stringent measures than the original order. For example, Washingtonians can still go outside and restaurants can still serve takeout. Essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals and banks will continue to stay open.
The governor said the first step law enforcement will take is to educate businesses and individuals about how their actions increase the risks to public safety.
Chief Steve Mylett said his agency needs the public's help to report violations where a large number of people may be at risk.
"We view our role more as one of education," Mylett said. "Educating residents on how to keep themselves safe, how to keep their families safe and most importantly, to keep the rest of the community safe, especially our vulnerable populations."
If a business or individual fails to comply after law enforcement intervenes, the agencies responsible for public safety could take formal enforcement actions. Inslee said these include citations, suspension notices, revoking someone's business license, potential criminal charges, and even a Consumer Protection Act violation action.
"The only way we can fight this pandemic and protect our families and our communities is if we come together on behalf of each other," Inslee said.
Officials from numerous local and state groups worked last week and over the weekend to create the enforcement policy.
Each of these agencies will take a role in enforcing this message to the public. They include the Attorney General's Office, Department of Licensing, Department of Health, Labor & Industries, Washington State Patrol, Liquor and Cannabis Board, Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, and the Washington Academy of Prosecuting Attorneys.
Chief Meidl said his agency will work with the public to protect and educate.
"The men and women in law enforcement across Washington are your neighbors," Meidl said. "They are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, father and mothers. They will continue to serve you every minute of every day and they will enforce the laws that keep people safe."
To see information on essential businesses, visit the governor's website at: https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/WA%20Essential%20Critical%20Infrastructure%20Workers%20%28Final%29.pdf