OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee released rules Wednesday afternoon that will allow religious, spiritual and faith-based organizations to conduct drive-in services.
"Faith is so important at all times, but especially during times of crisis and difficulty. This unique drive-in service option will allow people to come together," Inslee said in a written statement. "Our goal has always been to keep Washingtonians safe and healthy, and this option allows them to do that while participating in religious, spiritual and faith-based activities."
The guidance is part of the governor's first phase in loosening restrictions that have been in place since late March to combat the spread of the new coronavirus. Inslee's stay-at-home order runs through May 31.
Here are the rules for attendees of drive-in services:
-- All persons attending the service must drive up in an enclosed vehicle and remain in that same vehicle during the entire service. Individuals should not get out of their vehicle during the service for any reason.
-- Vehicle windows, sunroofs and convertible tops must remain closed during the entire service, unless the vehicle is parked more than 6 feet from any other vehicle.
-- No more than 10 people may be in a single vehicle.
-- Each vehicle may be occupied only by members of the same household who have already been in close contact with each other and are not sick.
Here are the rules for employees of the faith-based organization:
-- All employees and employers must follow current state Department of Health, Labor and Industries, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
If it is necessary to collect a physical offering, the organizer may use a drop-box, while vehicles are entering or leaving the service, provided that vehicles and individuals remain at all times at least 6 feet apart. Accepting online donations is the best practice.
-- No food or beverages or other materials (whether for religious or secular purpose) may be distributed or collected before, after, or as part of the service. This includes communion wafers or bread and wine or juices, Inslee spokesman Mike Faulk confirmed.
"Food and beverage, especially if they are in containers that are passed around in the same containers, being touched and breathed on by numerous individuals, or even handed to people at close proximity could help transmit the virus," he said.
"For example, I've been to services where they make you stick your tongue out and put the bread/cracker directly on your tongue. Some I've been to have everyone drink out of the same big silver goblet. Probably not a good idea in the time of COVID. Again, there may be ways to mitigate potential spread, but it would require additional guidance and would probably be tricky to deny," he said in an email.
The governor's office also released a six-page guidance memo Wednesday for reopening auto and vessel sales. Information on that can be found on the governor's website.