The “stay-at-home” instructions that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday do not apply to people experiencing homelessness, who by definition can’t stay at home.
For people with homes, Inslee has banned going out for purposes other than crucial activities such as grocery shopping, medical appointments and work deemed essential by the state, and banned outdoor activities other than those that can be done six feet away from others, such as walking and biking.
That prohibition “shall not apply to individuals experiencing homelessness,” the governor’s order says.
“But they are urged to obtain shelter, and governmental and other entities are strongly encouraged to make such shelter available as soon as possible and to the maximum extent practicable,” the order says.
The stay-at-home instructions also “shall not apply to individuals whose homes or residences are unsafe or become unsafe, such as victims of domestic violence,” the order says. “These individuals are permitted and urged to leave their homes or residences and stay at a safe alternate location.”
Inslee’s order also bans all gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes, with no exception for people experiencing homelessness. The only exception is for people who share a single household or residential unit.
A report released last week by leading researchers estimated it would cost more than $11 billion nationally and nearly $260 million in King County alone to shelter all homeless people at least 6 feet apart and to isolate and quarantine them when appropriate.
Also last week, Seattle announced that its team responsible for removing unauthorized homeless encampments would pause a significant amount of its removal work to prioritize outreach.