WA Governor Orders Schools Closed, Bans Large Gatherings

Mar 13, 2020

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz announced he has ordered a ban on large gatherings, just hours before the governor extended that to a statewide ban.
Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has ordered that large gatherings be prohibited statewide, extending a ban he originally invoked for King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties.

Inslee's announcement came just a few hours after Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz announced he’s requiring that events that will feature 250 people or more be postponed or cancelled for the next 30 days.

That took effect Friday at 5 pm.

“This includes sporting events, concerts, festivals, conferences, places of worship and other settings where people gather. Additionally, we recommend cancelling any gatherings where indoor social distancing is not possible, regional events or attendees come from multiple locations, including those outside of this area,  and where vulnerable populations would be the majority of attendees," Lutz said.

At that time, Lutz said he wasn't yet ready to order schools to be closed because he says there’s no evidence that the virus is spreading between younger people. And he says school closures would send a huge ripple effect through communities. He says schools should use the same practices businesses and other organizations are using, such as social distancing.

The governor's order overrides that. Children will be out of school between March 17 and April 24.