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Gov. Inslee issues stay-at-home order for Washington residents

Washington officials say residents will need to stay home, unless absolutely necessary. "Essential businesses" may remain open to the public.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statewide order to stay-at-home and stay healthy to help slow the spread of coronavirus. 

The order is in effect immediately for residents and will last at least two weeks.

People may still run imperative errands and go outside, such as walks and gardening, while maintaining a safe social distance from others. Only essential businesses may remain open to the public. 

Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and restaurants offering take-out are among the essential businesses that will be allowed to remain open. State officials urged residents to not rush these businesses and to not hoard supplies.

RELATED: These essential businesses can stay open during Washington's stay-at-home order

The order means:

  • Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies will be allowed to stay open. 
  • Restaurants offering take-out will also be allowed to operate.
  • Private and public gatherings are barred, including weddings and funerals.
  • People will still be allowed to go outside for activities such as walking or exercise, but are reminded to keep at least 6 feet distance from other people.
  • Workplaces that can do their business remotely may remain open.

The state has posted a list of types of "essential industries," which includes the workforce in healthcare, emergency services, grocery workers, to-go restaurants, postal and shipping workers, customer service for banks and many more.

Several cities, including Edmonds and Everett, already issued stay-at-home orders.

RELATED: 'Stay-at-home' violators face $500 maximum fine in Edmonds

Health officials say that limiting physical public contact is the best way to avoid spreading the new coronavirus which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19.

Many public places in Washington state have already been severely restricted or closed by state and local officials.

Schools, public events and dine-in restaurants already have been closed or canceled for at least a week. A ban on gatherings larger than 250 drove many churches and other houses of worship to cancel in-person services.

RELATED: Washington closes all schools and bans crowds during coronavirus outbreak

Some cities and King County already have closed ball fields and play structures to discourage public gatherings.

However, despite the closures and warnings over the past couple of weeks, people in Washington have continued to gather in big crowds or travel.

RELATED: Real-time updates: Latest news on the Washington coronavirus outbreak