Mossyrock restaurants may continue offering indoor dining this week despite Gov. Jay Inslee’s new sweeping restrictions after the city passed an ordinance in November saying the city “will not recognize” Inslee’s proclamation until “sufficient COVID-19 information and data is presented to the City that establishes a state of emergency exists within the City.”

“If we had good data saying Mossyrock should be doing what we’re doing, that’d be fine,” Mossyrock Mayor Randall Sasser said Monday. 

According to Sasser, the ordinance was met with broad community support and was spurred by frustration that the town of about 800 hasn’t seen many positive cases, yet is under the same restrictions as cities seeing bigger outbreaks. 

“Throughout this whole thing, we’ve always been asking our citizens, ‘do you know of anyone in our area with the virus?’” he said. “We don’t know of anybody who has it.”

Public Health Director J.P. Anderson said his office is aware of the ordinance but has little role in responding.

“We’re not the enforcement portion of the response,” he said. 

He noted that COVID-19 is a new disease and has moved into areas previously thought to be safe. 


The Pioneer Bar and Grill is seen closed on Monday with a sign in the window that reads, ‘No Inside Seating’ Monday morning in Mossyrock.

“It can be places where it hasn’t been before, and we have seen rural communities have really devastating outcomes … We definitely don’t think any community is immune to COVID,” Anderson said. “No matter where we live or which community we’re working with, they’re all connected. That’s how we view our work in Lewis County.”

Sasser said the city has submitted a public records request in an attempt to get the county to release cases by ZIP code — something local public health officials and the county prosecuting attorney’s office says would be legally dubious, as patients in sparsely populated areas could be too easily identifiable, potentially violating health privacy laws. 

While it’s difficult to say if Mossyrock has had any positive cases, Lewis County as a whole has seen cases climb in past months. As of Monday, all but one county in the state is “in the red” according to the state’s data dashboard, meaning there have been more than 75 new cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks. 

Currently, Lewis County is at 247.9 cases per 100,000.

While Mossyrock’s new ordinance may embolden some restaurants to continue indoor dining, it doesn’t block any consequences business owners may face in bucking statewide orders. In passing the ordinance, Sasser advised business owners to comply if state agencies issued citations or fines. 

Inslee’s orders have called for a ban on indoor dining at restaurants and bars, in addition to other restrictions. 

Alicia Thornton, owner of Lemon Tree Cafe & Espresso, was at the city council meeting when the ordinance was passed. She said she was visited by the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) last week, who told her serving unmasked residents could lead to consequences. Right now, the cafe is allowing indoor dining, although Thornton said she’s mainly just letting regulars sit down, and she doesn’t know how long it’ll last. 

Lemon Tree Cafe

Alicia Thornton smiles as she delivers drinks for customers at Lemon Tree Cafe in Mossyrock on Monday.

“We have the community supporting us, but for me it’s like, ‘is the community going to pay my fines?’” she said. 

Like Sasser, Thornton views the COVID-19 restrictions — which were issued against the backdrop of skyrocketing positive cases and nearly a quarter of a million American deaths — as a way to control citizens. Sasser thinks the orders could be a plot to gain control and then pass other measures such as an income tax or gun control. 

“It’s just a power thing,” he said. “This is giving them another way to say ‘OK, we’ve got them trained to now follow all our directions and never question what’s going on and never question the information we give them.’”

He also spoke of unintended consequences of the shutdown orders, such as mental health issues and a rise in domestic violence. 

“That’s the other thing that is not being communicated, I feel, with the public,” he said. 

Anderson noted that the county has worked to mitigate those consequences, pointing to reopening schools as a way to address student isolation and a need for childcare. He also pointed to federal CARES Act funding going to small businesses.


Businesses are seen open in Mossyrock Monday morning.

“Unfortunately, it’s not an either/or. It’s looking through a complicated matrix of potential outcomes and trying to make the best decision,” Anderson said. “And I know it’s frustrating to watch decisions being made that are impacting lives so profoundly and feeling like they’re being taken out of individual hands.”




(9) comments


sasser use your brain . we know you are not stupid . be a part of the solution , not part of the problem.


I am ashamed I served in our armed forces so long to protect a government that would do this to its people and their neighbors. I can not describe how it feels to observe Americans behave with such cowardice and selfishness.


I served 2 yrs. in Vietnam with Marine Tanks fighting the Chinese Commies & now I need to do the same here because of Treasonous Politicians who support CCP! Jay needs to go & WA. Citizens need to resume normal activities. Just wear a mask! Even if you get the "COVERT-19 Shot" you still need to wear a mask & keep your 6' spacing. So much for the shot.

Fiat Trucker

Well, the bottom line here is if you own a business in Mossyrock, you just got put under the microscope by Gov. Jay and his L&I enforcement squad. Might have been better off just staying quite and go about business as usual.


Maybe this is considered cold because one death is too many, but let's look at the statistics. Two percent of Washington states total population has had or has covid-19, with approximately the same percentage for Lewis County. Most people who get covid have flu like symptoms, headache, fever, congestion and it goes away with no treatment after about 10 days. There are some people that suffer much much worse consequences, but that is the case with any virus. Do we really need to shut down the world for 2 percent, or is use a mask in public indoor settings and wash your hands frequently an adequate response?


So are we all just going to forget the fact that Mossyrock has already had their school district shut down twice? Please tell me again how we can't prove there aren't any positive cases in their area? If everyone would just sit down, shut up, and stop spreading conspiracy theories we could have been out of this mess by now like other countries.


On a radio show recently the Mayor quoted 14 cases of covid versus 10 suicides and then he went on to say there 3 suicides in Lewis County last year. That is so wrong. I he had checked with the Lewis County Coroner, as I did, he would have found out there were 20 suicides in the county in 2019. If you are going to quote stats to support you rposition you should check to see that they are accurate.


“Throughout this whole thing, we’ve always been asking our citizens, ‘do you know of anyone in our area with the virus?’” he said. “We don’t know of anybody who has it.”

Jaysus... I mean utter outright lunatic denial of reality.


Not coming in for a drink or a burger...not now, not ever. I will remember this utter disregard for safety in a pandemic and never set foot in Mossyrock ever again.

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