Business and Workplaces
Business owners with questions about how the emergency orders apply to them can contact the governor’s office via a webform.
Current Requirements by Business Type
For all businesses and activities not addressed in the new statewide Current Guidance restrictions, previous phase guidance still applies.
Activities allowed: These guidelines apply to livestock and horse exhibitions/shows/sales/auctions, companion animal (dog, cats, rabbits, etc.) shows, or any substantially similar event.
Activities allowed: Agritourism such as U-pick farms and tree farms are allowed to operate following certain requirements.
Limitations: The new Commercial Service Airport Requirements are a statewide approach that sets baseline requirements at each commercial passenger service airport. It also encourages airlines to adopt certain health screening questionnaires, and to require passengers abide by face covering and physical distancing requirements in order to be issued a boarding pass.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: No indoor bowling is permitted.
Activities allowed: All construction, including new work and where social distancing may not be maintained.
Activities allowed: Any worker (hourly, salaried, independent contractor, full-time, part-time, or temporary) who is paid by one or more employer and provides domestic services to an individual or household in/about a private home as a nanny, house cleaner, cook, private chef, or household manager.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: Outdoor fitness classes are permitted in groups of five or less. Indoor fitness and dropoff childcare are not permitted.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: Ceremonies must be capped at 30 people. Receptions are not permitted. Facial coverings are required, and social distancing must be maintained
Activities allowed: As an essential business, grocery stores continue to serve customers and follow guidance for keeping customers and employees safe.
Limitations: Grocery stores must apply social distancing, employee safety recommendations, sanitation practices, prohibit food sampling and self-serve stations.
Healthcare and Service Providers
Limitations: Healthcare and service providers can use the following up-to-date resources to prepare for and respond to cases of COVID-19 in their facility, and protect the health of clients, patients, and staff.
Activities allowed: All non-lecture based higher education and workforce training, including where social distancing may not be maintained.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: All retail activities are subject to current guidance, which restricts capacity to 25 percent. Common spaces like food courts must remain closed.
Activities allowed: Libraries may operate as long as they meet certain requirements and limit capacity to 25 percent.
Long-term care facilities
Activities allowed: Indoor compassionate care visits, outdoor visits, window visits, and remote visitation.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: All visits and activities must follow strict safety protocols, including masking, social distancing, and appropriate hygiene. Indoor visits are restricted to essential support persons and compassionate care situations.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: All retail activities and business meetings are prohibited. Only professional training and testing that cannot be performed remotely is allowed. Occupancy in each meeting room is limited to 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer as long as six feet of physical distance can be maintained by all attendees. Any food service provided to attendees shall be self‐contained, pre-plated, grab‐and‐go meals/snacks to limit contact. Receptions, networking events, and live-entertainment are prohibited.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: Drive-in only.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: Museums are closed for indoor service.
Activities allowed: All personal services including Cosmetologists, Hairstylists, Barbers, Estheticians, Master Estheticians, Manicurists, Nail Salon Workers, Electrologists, Permanent Makeup Artists, Tattoo Artists, Cosmetology Schools and Esthetics Schools.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: All personal services are subject to current guidance which restricts customer occupancy to 25% with the exception of one to one services in an enclosed room.
Activities allowed: All pet grooming services including any location provided by an individual, or at a retail, veterinary, or other facility.
Limitations: All pet grooming services are subject to current guidance which restricts client occupancy to 50%.
Limitations: All professional photography services are subject to current guidance which restricts services to appointment only and for one client (and family member, if client is a minor) at any given time. Group sessions are not allowed unless the group consists of immediate family only.
Activities allowed: Accountants, architects, attorneys, engineers, financial advisors, information technologists, insurance agents, tax preparers, and other office-based occupations that are typically serving a client base.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: All professional services are required to mandate that employees work from home when possible, and to close offices to the public. If they remain open, occupancy is restricted to 25%.
Real estate (residential and commercial)
Activities allowed: All real estate brokers, firms, independent contractors and industry partners.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: Open houses are prohibited.
Religious and faith organizations
Activities allowed: All religious and faith-based organizations may operate services including worship services; religious study classes; religious ceremonies; religious holiday celebrations, weddings, and funerals. Remote or outdoor services are recommended.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: All religious and faith based activities are subject to current guidance which generally restricts indoor services to the lesser of 25% capacity or 200 individuals as long as 6 feet of distance is kept between people from different households. In-home services/counseling is restricted to no more than five individuals. Limitations on capacity does not include an organization's staff, but does include volunteers. Choirs, bands, and ensembles are not permitted to perform. Soloists are permitted to perform. Facial coverings must be worn at all times.
Limitations: Housing managers, staff and residents can practice and encourage social distancing, wear face coverings, manage and limit use of common areas, frequently clean high-touch areas, limit visitors, and more to protect themselves and their residential community.
Restaurants and taverns
New Limitations, in effect 11/18: No indoor dining is permitted. Outdoor dining is limited to tables of 5 or fewer.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: Ceremonies must be capped at 30 people. Receptions are not permitted. Facial coverings are required, and social distancing must be maintained.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: Fitness places include but are not limited to gyms, studios and sports facilities. Only outdoor fitness is permitted with groups smaller than 5 people.
Outdoor RacesActivities allowed: Outdoor biking, running, kayak and canoe, and cross country skiing competitions with more than 12 participants are allowed, including triathlons, marathons, and more.
Limitations: Fun runs and charity walks without participant timing are not allowed.
Activities allowed: Staffed outdoor tennis facilities; guided ATV, paddle sports, and horseback riding; go-cart tracks, ORV/motocross facilities, participant only motorsports
Limitations: The above outdoor recreation activities are subject to Current guidance and are generally limited to groups of five participants or less, in some instances up to 12 individuals or three households are permitted.
Activities allowed: Golf, professional sporting activities indoor and outdoor; outdoor youth team sports and adult recreational team sports.
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: Youth and adult sports are limited to outdoor only for intrateam practices and masks required for athletes.
Current guidance aligns school related and non-school related sports guidance. The key metrics consider both the "risk of transmission" associated with the the sport/activity and the level of COVID-19 activity in the county. For example:
low risk sports = golf, tennis, cross country, non-contact dance and more.
moderate risk sports = soccer, baseball, hockey, gymnastics and more.
high risk sports = football, basketball, wrestling, and more.
King County is currently at the HIGH LEVEL COUNTY COVID ACTIVITY > 75 cases/100K/14 days AND < 5% positivity.
Once a county is confirmed to be at a HIGH activity level, full practices and matches cannot be played for two weeks, when the level can be assessed again.
HIGH LEVEL COUNTY COVID ACTIVITY guidance:
Team practices and/or training OK for low, medium, and high risk sports if players are limited to groups of six in separate parts of the field/court, separated by a buffer zone.
Practice or training activities can only be done outdoors.
Scrimmage, intra-team competitions, and league games or competition allowed for low risk sports. No tournaments allowed.
No spectators allowed except for one parent/guardian/caregiver for each minor-aged participant. No spectators allowed for participants 18 and older.
Limitations: Specific protocols for transportation, group size and facial coverings. Indoor facilities must adhere to overall capacity limits detailed in the Indoor Fitness and Training Guidelines.
Social and Recreational Gatherings
New Limitations, in effect 11/17: Individuals may only gather outdoors with five or fewer people from outside their household per week. Indoor gatherings are prohibited with anyone from a different household.
Water Recreation Facilities
Limitations: By appointment only.
Resources for Employers
- King County's Small Business Assistance Program for small businesses in unincorporated King County impacted by COVID-19
- Guidance for Businesses and Employers - (CDC)
- Safe Start Plans and Guidance for Reopening – (State of Washington)
- Information and resources, including webinars about all aspects of running a business in Washington during this time.
- Helpful summary of weekly updates via email, subscribe here.
- Return to Work Guide for Employers (Business Health Trust)
- Technical assistance for businesses (Business Impact Northwests)
- List of resources for small businesses (Ventures)
- Culturally and linguistically relevant assistance for business owners and organizations affected by COVID-19
Resources for WorkersFree Employment Resources in King County
Re-opening Toolkit: Materials to print for your business
The following toolkit includes all the materials you need to print for reference and to display, to help reopen and operate your business safely.
Safe Work Plan
Posters for Customers
Posters for Employees
Culturally and linguistically relevant help is available in-language for small businesses and nonprofits looking to find and apply for resources, access translation assistance, plan for recovery and safe re-opening, and more.
Re-opening Requirements for All Businesses
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has posted complete Phase 1 and 2 Workplace Safety and Health Requirements and a helpful summary of guidance. You can also find more information for specific sectors on Gov. Jay Inslee's website.
Post COVID-19 policies in a language your employees can understand. Inform them about the symptoms and risk factors associated with the virus; the importance of frequent and thorough handwashing and social distancing; and the need to stay home when sick. King County has educational materials in many languages to help employers fulfill this requirement.
This poster explains basic information for employees:
Maintain at least six feet of separation between employees and customers at all times, including between tables at restaurants, customers waiting in line, and people using elevators. Businesses may need to print posters encouraging this behavior, such as only allowing 1-2 people per elevator depending on the size of the cab, or place tape or markers on the floor six feet apart.
When strict physical distancing is not feasible for a specific task, other measures are required, such as installing barriers, reducing staff or staggering worker hours.
Provide cloth face coverings and require employees to wear them unless they are working alone or have a condition that makes wearing a mask dangerous. Workers can wear their own face coverings, provided they meet minimum requirements.
Some jobs require higher levels of personal protective equipment because they have a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. You can find information about additional face coverings in Labor and Industries’ Which Mask for Which Task.
Provide cloth masks and require employees to wear them unless they are working alone or have a condition that makes wearing a mask dangerous.
More information about face coverings and King County's Face Covering Directive: kingcounty.gov/masks
Require frequent handwashing and provide the necessary supplies. Supplies may include additional sinks or stations where employees can wash their hands. If regular handwashing with soap and water is not possible employers must supply hand sanitizer.
Download handwashing posters in multiple languages: www.kingcounty.gov/stopgerms
Provide disposable gloves where appropriate to prevent virus transmission on shared tools and other equipment.
Regularly clean and sanitize your workplace, especially frequently touched surfaces. Each workplace should establish a cleaning schedule and ensure that high-touch areas are routinely sanitized.
Check to see if employees have any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 at the start of their shift. Use this COVID-19 Screening Tool and keep a log that the screening process was followed for all employees.
If they do, send them home and advise them to seek testing.
Exposed employees with a known exposure time (no longer than a day) should be tested no sooner than 48 hours from their exposure date.
Due to limited lab capacity for processing tests, only people with symptoms or who are close contacts of confirmed cases should get tested.
Unless they work in health care or long-term care facilities, employers should not require workers to submit a negative COVID-19 test result or a positive antibody test before starting a job or returning to work after recovering from the virus.
Workers can return when at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared, and at least 24 hours have passed since their fever resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications, and their other symptoms have improved.
Post a sign near your business entrance strongly encouraging customers to wear cloth masks.
Consider making this a requirement for all customers.
Some people are exempt from mask requirements for health and safety reasons. Reference this toolkit and educate employees to understand mask exemptions.
It is against the law for any employer to fire or retaliate against a worker for reporting concerns about health and safety. In addition, Governor Inslee has ordered that employees in high-risk groups for COVID-19 must be granted leave if they can't report to work for health reasons. Read the guidance memo for Proclamation 20-46.1 about "High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights" here.
FAQs about high-risk workers
Can office workers be required to return to the workplace?
Yes. While much office work might be performed remotely, some employers may wish to return some workers to the workplace. The governor's Professional Services COVID-19 Requirements do not preclude or prevent this - employers may require some employees to return. High-risk workers, however, must be afforded "reasonable accommodation" to reduce their risk of infection.
If a worker is "high-risk" but has exhausted their sick and vacation time, what can they do if alternative work arrangements cannot be made?
High-risk workers are generally protected from adverse employment action under the proclamation, although employers are not obligated to pay beyond any accrued paid time off.
According to Proclamation 20-46.2, "Employers are prohibited from failing to utilize all available options for alternative work assignments to protect high-risk employees, if requested, from exposure to the COVID-19 disease, including but not limited to telework, alternative or remote work locations, reassignment, and social distancing measures."
In short, the employer must consider alternative work arrangements for high-risk workers. If impossible, the employer is not obligated to pay for unworked hours, but may not take adverse employment action.
Effective July 7, the Governor's Safe Start Proclamation requires employers in King County (in non-healthcare settings) to notify Public Health – Seattle & King County *within 24 hours* if they suspect COVID is spreading in their workplace or if there are two or more confirmed or suspected cases among their employees in a 14 day period.
- Face covering exemption toolkit
- Business Signage Toolkit (Safe Start WA)
- Business Tool Kit for Reopening (Association of Washington Businesses)
- Toolkits from the City of Seattle
- Domestic Services
- Fitness and Training
- In-Store Retail
- Personal Services
- Professional Services
- Restaurants and Taverns
- COVID-19 Handbook for Creative Sector
Find Face Coverings and Masks
Chambers and business organizations throughout King County have joined together to get face coverings, disposable masks, and hand sanitizer to businesses in King County. Businesses can go to www.safestartkingcounty.com for more information.
Check with your city to learn whether there are currently funding opportunities available in addition to the opportunities below.
- Small Business Assistance Program for Unincorporated King County
- Small Business Funding Opportunities - Statewide and King County
- Community organizations that can help
- Check to see if any programs from the Small Business Administration (SBA) are right for your business
For non-medical questions about COVID-19, including compliance and business related issues, contact King County COVID-19 Business and Community Information Line at 206-296-1608, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
If you are a food business owner or a food worker and have questions related to your operation, please reach out to your Health Investigator or call 206-263-9566 to speak with office staff.
Restaurants and Taverns
Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR)
King County's Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) program provides education and materials to help restaurants implement state and public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It also increases the accountability of food service establishments to abide by the health and safety standards that support a safe reopening.