COVID-19 – ArtsWA Latest News

ArtsWA Mandatory Furloughs Notice

Due to an expected budget shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Jay Inslee directed ArtsWA and other state agencies to furlough most employees for eight days this summer and fall.  ArtsWA offices will be closed and most employees will be on furlough on the following dates:

ArtsWA staff in the following programs: Administrative, Finance, Art in Public Places, Creative Districts
Thursday, July 2nd
Friday July 10th
Friday July 17th
Friday July 24th

Fri, August 28th
Friday, September 25th
Friday, October 30th
Wed, November 25th

ArtsWA staff in the following programs: Arts in Education and Grants to Organizations

Thursday, July 2nd
Monday, July 6th
Monday, July 13th
Monday, July 20th

Monday, August 17th
Monday, September 21st
Monday, October 19th
Monday, November 16th

Please note that if you are trying to reach ArtsWA staff during these times, they will respond on the following business day. Thank you for your patience as we navigate through this.

The Governor's Plan for Reopening the State
Opening WA's economy in 4 phases

On May 1, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Department of Health announced:

  • Extension of the Stay Home order through May 31
  • New allowances are being worked on to soon allow for retail curbside pickup, automobile sales, car washes, landscaping and house cleaning services, and drive-in spiritual services with one household per vehicle.
  • A reopening plan that outlines four phases of reopening businesses and resuming activities involving group gatherings, travel, shopping and recreation. The focus is on reopening safely and protecting the health of workers and the general public. (The governor’s official order with more details will be released in the next couple days.)

This is a phased, data-driven approach. All reopening activities depend on continued success in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and meeting four capabilities including:

  1. Health care system readiness
  2. Testing capacity
  3. Ability to do contact investigations
  4. Ability to protect high-risk populations

Every phase will still require physical distancing and appropriate health precautions including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in a number of industries.

We are entering Phase 1 which begins May 5. The governor has already allowed some construction to resume as well as reopening of some recreational activities including day use at state parks, playing golf, fishing and hunting starting May 5. Officials are working with industries to develop new protocols that could soon also allow for retail curbside pickup, car washes, landscaping and house cleaning services and drive-in spiritual services with one household per vehicle.

When COVID-19 disease burden is low and decreasing and the four capabilities described above are met, the governor will move from Phase 1 to Phase 2.

Phase 2: Additional expansions of outdoor recreation activities would be allowed, as well as small gatherings of five or fewer people, new construction and in-store retail purchases with health restrictions. Barber shops and salons could reopen. Restaurants could reopen with 50% capacity and table size no larger than five. Some professional services and offices could open up as well, even though teleworking would remain strongly encouraged. Pet care services including grooming could resume.

Phase 3:  Gatherings of 50 people or less, including sports activities, would be allowed, and non-essential travel could resume. Restaurants could move up to 75% capacity and tables up to 10 people, and bars at 25% capacity; gyms and movie theaters could reopen at 50% capacity; retail, libraries, museums and government buildings could reopen. Recreational facilities like pools could open at 50% capacity. Nightclubs and entertainment venues would still not be able to reopen.

Phase 4: Would involve resuming the majority of public interactions. Gatherings of more than 50 people would be allowed, but still while practicing physical distancing.

Not every part of the state is experiencing the pandemic the same way. County variances are allowed.

  • Smaller counties could reopen. Very small counties with low to no COVID-19 activity will be able to apply. As of 5/1/2020, the Department of Health has determined that ten counties are eligible: Pend Oreille, Ferry, Lincoln, Columbia, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kittitas, Skamania and Wahkiakum. DOH is preparing information for the counties now about how to apply. State officials are evaluating data to see whether other counties could potentially be considered as well.
  • Counties can continue implementing more strict restriction Cities and jurisdictions can take more strict actions than what the state is mandating. That is up to them based on their public health needs and local decision making.

During all phases, individuals should continue to:

  • Engage in physical distancing of at least six feet
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public places when within 6 feet of another person and not eating or drinking (cloth face coverings should not be placed on  children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance)
  • Stay home if sick
  • Avoid others who are sick
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water (use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available)
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly

During all phases, all employers are required to:

  • Maintain the six-foot physical distancing requirements for employees and patrons. Adopt other prevention measures such as barriers to block sneezes and coughs when physical distancing is not possible for a particular job task.
  • Provide services while limiting close interactions with patrons.
  • Provide adequate sanitation and personal hygiene for workers, vendors and patrons. Ensure employees have access to hand washing facilities so they can wash their hands frequently with soap and running water.
  • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfection of the business, particularly of high touch surfaces.
  • Identify PPE and cloth facial coverings in accordance with L&I requirements on facial coverings and industry specific COVID-19 standards. Provide the necessary PPE and supplies to employees.
  • Identify strategies for addressing ill employees, which should include requiring COVID-19 positive employees to stay at home while infectious, and potentially restricting employees who were directly exposed to the COVID-19 positive employee. Follow CDC cleaning guidelines to deep clean after reports of an employee with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness. This may involve the closure of the business until the location can be properly disinfected.
  • Educate employees about COVID-19 in a language they best understand. The education should include the signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread.
  • On a case-by-case basis, as directed by federal, state and local public health and workplace safety officials, implement other practices appropriate for specific types of businesses such as screening of employees for illness and exposures upon work entry, requiring non-cash transactions, etc.
  • Follow requirements in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights

Businesses are also expected to implement any additional requirements developed specifically for their industry such as those that have been established for construction.



Am I required to wear a face mask or cloth face covering when I go out?

Employers may be required to provide workers masks or face coverings and should review requirements. At this time, it is strongly recommended that individuals wear a mask or fabric face covering when going out, especially when it’s not possible to ensure 6-feet of physical distance from other people. There is not, at this time, a requirement.

What data is the governor referring to as he decides whether to go to Phase 2?

The governor and public health officials look at numerous data sources. An overview of some of that data can be seen on the state’s Risk Assessment dashboard in the “What You Need to Know” section of

Why are some counties allowed to resume certain activities but not others?

Not every part of the state is experiencing the pandemic the same way. It will be harder to reopen certain industries in heavily populated areas. We want to acknowledge that some counties may be able to resume certain activities safely, while others remain at higher risk and need to continue stricter precautions. In any community that restrictions are lifted, state health officials are closely monitoring COVID-19 activity and will reinstate restrictions if COVID-19 activity increases.

When will we know if [sports activities, vacations, etc.] will be allowed?

The governor’s decisions about resuming activities are based on COVID-19 activity and our readiness to test, treat and protect Washingtonians and not on any particular timeline. The governor has said a full return to normal will require pharmaceutical interventions such as a vaccine and he does not know when we are going to get there.

How can I get a face covering/provide face coverings for those who need them?

If you’re looking for a way to support our essential workers, you can participate in Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib’s “Washington Mask Challenge.” If you have homemade cloth masks to done to an organization in need we encourage you to go to And if you are one of those organizations in need of cloth masks, you can request them at the website.

Find information about state, local and national programs and resources that can help you manage the impacts of the novel coronavirus.

Learn more about how you can successfully manage your ArtsWA CARES Relief Act Grant.

Find information about how the state government is helping support Washingtonians during this time.

Latest ArtsWA News about COVID-19

Agency News|COVID-19 Updates
Latest grants available to artists, arts organizations, creative workers, and small businesses

The National Endowment for the Arts has released its guidelines for the distribution of $75 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securirty (CARES) Act. ArtsWA is currently preparing guidelines to swiftly distribute the funding to arts organizations across the state. More information on how to apply will be available soon. Up to $10 million in emergency relief grants ($5,000 each) are also available through the newly formed national Artist Relief Fund. Here in Washington, small businesses can also apply for $10,000 in emergency relief funding that can be used for operational expenses.

Read more

State and Regional Partners