Summary of coronavirus (COVID-19) clarification letters issued by Gov. Inslee

Please note that this summary of the Governor’s letters clarifying who are “essential workers” during the COVID-19 state of emergency has been prepared by House Republican Caucus staff. It is meant to provide the reader with a general overview of the topics encompassed in the clarification letters. You may not rely on it as legal opinion or legal advice and you are encouraged to review the full text of the clarification letters by referencing Governor Inslee’s website. Further, to seek clarification or request to be included as an essential worker, you must contact the Governor’s office directly, by submitting the following form.


Recreational fishing (April 6)

Reiterating that recreational fishing is prohibited in letter to inquiring representatives and senators.

Retail (March 31)

General retail is essential, but non-essential retail that is easily separable from the essential retail areas is not essential (meaning separate locations, buildings, separate staff that closure of non-essential retail portion will not affect the essential portion).

Tobacco/vapor sellers are essential if they sell food.

Essential workers:

  • workers supporting essential retail sales

Moving companies (March 31)

Commercial and household moving companies are essential only when necessary:

  • to ensure that people remain in housing
  • to fulfill contracts
  • to remove vulnerable individuals from danger

Essential workers:

  • fewest number of workers to conduct the activity, following proper social distancing and sanitation

Golf (March 31)

Golf is not deemed essential.

Campgrounds (March 31)

Private campgrounds are essential for purposes of not displacing long-term residents, but are not to allow unsafe vacationing.

Essential workers:

  • workers supporting private campgrounds

Outdoor maintenance (March 31)

Outdoor maintenance, including vegetation, is deemed essential only when necessary to prevent spoliation, avoid imminent damage or address emergency repairs.

In-home care (March 31)

Nannies and other persons providing childcare in the child’s own home if caring for children of essential workers.

Essential workers:

  • nannies and other persons providing in-home childcare for essential workers.

Health care and public health (March 31)

Clinical trials and biotech therapies are essential.

Essential workers:

  • workers and facilities supporting essential research, development, operations and clinical trials

Food and agriculture (March 31)

Geoduck fisheries and commercial fishing are essential.

Essential workers:

  • workers supporting geoduck fisheries and commercial fishing

Energy (March 31)

Renewable energy generation, natural gas generation and biofuel refining are essential.

Essential workers:

  • workers supporting IT-OT technology for energy management systems supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems
  • cybersecurity engineers and risk management
  • energy management and business continuity workers

Automotive industry (March 31)

Repairs are essential, but by appointment only.

Essential workers for repairs:

  • Limited to only those minimal number of employees necessary for the transaction, following proper social distancing and sanitation.

Limited sales and leasing activities are essential and may be performed by appointment or for the following reasons:

  • to close a pending transaction that began before Stay Home Stay Healthy Proclamation was issued on March 23.
  • to replace a totaled vehicle or one that is impractical to repair.
  • to extend a lease that expires.
  • to provide transportation to essential workers (if no other means of transportation available).

For sales, buyer must certify that a purchase is necessary for one of the reasons provided.

Essential workers for sales and leasing:

  • Only one dealership employee may be present at any one time.

Funerals and memorial services/embalming (March 28)

Funerals and memorial services may occur at funeral home or gravesite, under the following limitations:

  • Only immediate family members of the deceased may attend, following proper social distancing requirements.
  • Proclamation 20-25 does not prohibit embalming.

Real estate and mortgage lending (March 27)

Clarification that real estate and mortgage lending are essential activities, which may occur only following proper social distancing/other limitations:

  • No in-person meetings, except when necessary for the customer to review property or sign necessary documents.
  • No open houses.
  • Property viewings, inspections, appraisals and final walk-throughs must occur by appointing and be limited to no more than 2 persons present.
  • Generally, all new listings must be facilitated remotely.

Essential workers:

  • real estate sales agents
  • appraisers
  • settlement agents and escrow officers
  • property inspectors
  • mortgage loan originators, processors, and underwriters
  • other necessary office personnel including IT professionals and back office staff necessary to maintain office operations
  • government workers necessary to review real estate excise tax and record documents

Commercial and residential construction (March 25)

Exceptions to the general prohibitions on commercial and residential construction during the state of emergency.

Exceptions under Proclamation 20-25:

  • Construction related to essential activities described in the Proclamation.
  • To further a public purpose related to a public entity or governmental function or facility, including publicly financed low-income housing.
  • To prevent spoliation and avoid damages or unsafe conditions, address emergency repairs needed at both non-essential businesses and residential structures.

Essential workers:

  • workers who are building
  • construction superintendents
  • tradesmen or tradeswomen, or other trades including, but not limited to:
    • plumbers
    • electricians
    • carpenters
    • laborers
    • sheet metal
    • iron workers
    • masonry
    • pipe trades
    • fabricators
    • heavy equipment and crane operators
    • finishers
    • exterminators
    • pesticide applicators
    • cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties
    • security staff
    • operating engineers
    • HVAC technicians
    • painting
    • moving and relocation services
    • forestry and arborists
    • and other necessary service providers