OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to reimpose COVID restrictions in Cowlitz County and two other Washington counties will create hardship and frustration in a region of high unemployment, warns Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview.
“The governor just doesn’t get it,” Wilson said. “Orders from on high are meaningless without the cooperation of the public. But when the governor keeps changing the goalposts, it just doesn’t make sense to anyone.”
The governor’s new order, announced Monday afternoon, rolls Cowlitz, Pierce and Whitman counties back to Phase 2 of the state’s COVID lockdown plan. The move to Phase 2 reduces indoor capacity for restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues from 50 percent to 25 percent. All other Washington counties remain in Phase 3.
Wilson noted that the capacity restrictions will make it harder for struggling businesses to survive. High unemployment in Wilson’s 19th Legislative District already has made it a hotbed of protest against COVID lockdown orders. Defiant owners of Stuffy’s Restaurant in Longview opened their doors last December in violation of the governor’s orders, prompting state fines and public rallies in support of the restaurant.
“With the flip of a switch in Olympia, the governor has reignited public fury at a time when the COVID threat is winding down,” Wilson said. “A year ago, Washington was told we were looking at a two-week flattening of the curve, and now we seem to be in an indefinite lockdown.
“The state’s COVID restrictions may have helped prevent the spread of the disease, but they came at great cost to the people. Thousands of businesses have closed for good after months of no income, and dysfunction in the state Department of Employment Security delayed unemployment benefits to many thousands of people. While the governor talks about numbers and metrics, we have people struggling to put food on the table. He forgets that if restrictions don’t make sense to the people, they just don’t work.”
Wilson noted that Democratic majorities in the House and Senate voted earlier this year to cede the Legislature’s COVID decision-making authority to the governor for the duration. “The people have been denied their voice,” he said. “No wonder they are frustrated.”