PORT ANGELES — It’s last call for indoor dining at Clallam County establishments under new COVID-19 restrictions.
Bars and restaurants are required to close for dine-in service at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday as part of sweeping measures announced by Gov. Jay Inslee to stem high rates of coronavirus transmission statewide.
“It’s pretty sad that we got targeted directly,” said Michael McQuay, owner of Kokopelli Grill and Coyote BBQ Pub in Port Angeles.
“But it is what it is, and we’re going to comply, and we’ll be sticking around. We’re not going anywhere.”
Kokopelli and other Clallam County restaurants will continue to offer take-out service as they did during the COVID-19 lockdown in spring.
Other types of businesses, including gyms, bowling centers, movie theaters and museums, were ordered to close indoor services from Monday through Dec. 14.
“Closing our facilities is difficult for both our staff and our members, but we know that it is incredibly important to do everything possible to get on the other side of this pandemic,” Olympic Peninsula YMCA officials said Monday.
Indoor social gatherings with people from more than one household are prohibited under Inslee’s latest order unless attendees have quarantined for 14 days or have tested negative for COVID-19 and quarantined for seven days.
While there is no enforcement mechanism for indoor gatherings, Inslee has said he hopes people would follow the rules to help stave off a third wave of the highly contagious virus.
“Inaction here is not an option,” Inslee said Sunday.
Forks Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lissy Andros said the new measures would have an adverse impacts on rural economies.
“I think it’s going to cause a huge hardship, and painting the whole state with one brush, I think, is a huge mistake,” Andros said in a Monday interview.
“We don’t have the (COVID-19) numbers that King County has, or that a lot of other places have.”
Andros said the ban on social gatherings would be a “huge blow” to the public psyche, especially around Thanksgiving.
“I think, personally, it’s overreach by the government, and I know a lot of people around here feel that way,” Andros said.
“Forks in particular is very resilient, and we’re going to get though this,” Andros added, “but we just need some cooperation to be able to run businesses and do things safely.”
Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce Director Marc Abshire said the new COVID-19 restrictions are more targeted than they were during the initial lockdown.
“I appreciate the state being a little bit less restrictive on some types of businesses, and then knowing that they need to be more restrictive on others,” Abshire said.
“Of course, it’s going to have a negative impact on our economy, but hopefully it will have a positive impact on our health.”
Abshire said bars and restaurants would likely be most impacted by the governor’s order.
“A lot of them have already got curbside and takeout procedures worked out really well from before, so hopefully they’ll be able to enact some of that again,” Abshire said Monday.
About half of Coyote BBQ customers — and 20 to 30 percent of Kokopelli patrons — are ordering take-out now.
“We’ve gotten really good at it,” McQuay said. “We’ve got robust online systems for that.”
Next Door Gastropub in Port Angeles will offer daily take-out service from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“It’s troubling and difficult times, for sure, but we’re going to get though it because that’s what we do,” said Jake Oppelt, who owns Next Door Gastropub and Bourbon West in Port Angeles.
“As far as the orders go, I think we need better leadership than what Inslee is demonstrating.”
Oppelt said a regional approach to the pandemic is the “only approach that makes sense.”
“I don’t believe the entire state should be governed the same way, and I think people should be able to choose what’s reasonable for themselves and/or their businesses and assess their own risks,” Oppelt said in a text message.
Oppelt and Abshire each encouraged the public to support local businesses.
“It’s four weeks, and it just so happens to be four weeks of the holiday season, when a lot of our businesses are really hoping to have sales,” Abshire said in a telephone interview.
“So I really think it’s even more imperative on our local community to shop local and support the local businesses that are open and that can stay open.”
Shore Aquatic Center in Port Angeles will remain open at limited capacity as the new rules do not apply to pools, Executive Director Steve Burke said.
“We just continue with the rules that we’re under,” Burke said Monday.
“We’re glad that we’re able to stay open to provide safety, recreation and fitness for people in our community.”
Reservations are required to swim at Shore Aquatic Center, which reopened last month after a $20 million expansion.
Abshire announced late Monday that the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village would be delayed until mid-March because of COVID-19 precautions.
“It will be open until the middle of April, probably,” Abshire said Monday after meeting with Clallam County health officials.
The outdoor skating rink and Christmas-themed village in downtown Port Angeles was originally scheduled to be open from Dec. 4 to Jan. 4 for a third consecutive season.
Meanwhile, Clallam County’s two-week infection rate for COVID-19 was 71 cases per 100,000 population as of Monday, a jump to the state’s moderate-risk category but still below the high-risk threshold of 75 cases per 100,000.
The state infection rate was 162.1 cases per 100,000, according to the state Department of Health.
“We’ve been paying the price even though we have a lower instance of the virus here,” Abshire said.
“But we do have it, and it is spiking, and so hopefully these measures will keep everybody safe.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].