Governor unveils plans to help workers, renters and small businesses amid COVID-19 outbreak

  • Businesses are closing and people are out of work

  • Inslee predicts continued economic hardship during response to coronavirus

By Cameron Sheppard

WNPA News Service

OLYMPIA – Economic assistance to workers, renters and small businesses suffering from the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak will be provided by Governor Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 response plan..

At the beginning of the week, Inslee mandated a two-week closure of restaurants, bars, and entertainment facilities across the state in an effort to increase social distancing and reduce opportunities for the virus to spread.

As a result, many workers have found themselves suddenly out of work and wondering what they would do.

Gov. Jay Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee

“We know we are heading for some really choppy economic waters,” Inslee admitted on Wednesday, March 18.

The governor ordered a 30-day moratorium on renter evictions to ease pressures on workers and businesses struggling to pay rent during the slowdown.

Inslee said landlords will be prohibited from taking legal action against tenants and added that eviction notices cannot be presented to renters unless there is a legitimate health or safety concern.

The governor asked utility companies to be more flexible with their customers during this period of economic strife, pressing for a waiver of late fees, a suspension of penalties for nonpayment and an expansion of bill assistance programs.

To provide quicker assistance to displaced workers, Inslee announced a waiver of the one-week waiting period for those applying for unemployment insurance. On March 8, the governor expanded the unemployment insurance criteria to include more workers impacted by COVID-19.

The governor also said the Family Emergency Assistance Program, under the Department of Social and Health Services, will be expanded to include financial assistance for families with no children.

To help small businesses across the state facing tough times due to the COVID-19 restrictions, Inslee pledged up to $5 million of the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Funds to be made available as small grants.