Updated restrictions on weddings, funerals and gyms issued by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this week have begun to bite but local businesses say they will survive — though services will look somewhat different.
Indoor services remain prohibited for counties that are in phase 1 of Inslee’s four-phase plan to reopen the state economy — Whitman County is in Phase 3.
However, effective Monday, occupancy for indoor funerals and weddings are limited to 25 percent of the venue’s capacity or 30 people — whichever is lowest. Outdoor ceremonies are limited to 30 people and at least 6 feet of physical distancing between households is required and receptions are prohibited.
Craig Corbeill, owner of Kimball Funeral Home and Crematory in Pullman and Bruning Funeral Home in Colfax, said the restrictions have affected his business a great deal. He said in many cases, the 30-person limit for ceremonies means most funerary proceedings will be restricted to just family.
“(We’re) not really being able to have a funeral service like we normally would and it’s been difficult for some families to feel like they’re honoring their loved one in the correct way,” Corbeill said. “We’re doing the best we can and … we still are doing something, it’s just not as much as it would be.”
Thanks in part to healthy reserves, Corbeill said his businesses have weathered economic fallout related to the pandemic reasonably well.
He said the prohibition on receptions has been felt particularly acutely by the aggrieved.
“I think it’s more difficult when the community is not able to come and surround them but I also think, for the most part, people understand and they are respectful of the times that we are in,” Corbeill said, though he noted his customers have been uniformly understanding about the restrictions. “I do think it’s important for the community to be able to support those that are grieving and in many cases have not been able to happen.”
Sara Joplin, co-owner of Seasoned House event venue, said her space is relatively small — fitting about 50 people comfortably, so she and business partner, Daquarii Rock, decided to shut their doors early in the pandemic.
She said they haven’t hosted any events in their downtown Pullman venue since last February. For a new business, the pandemic has caused a huge disruption to their ability to build a client base and regional reputation. However, Joplin said both she and her business partner have alternative streams of revenue so they have been able to survive the drop in business — though there’s not telling what the fall or next spring will bring.
Before the pandemic, Joplin said, Seasoned House was doing very well, so they were disappointed to have to close but it’s worth it if it means protecting people’s health.
“We weren’t interested in providing a space that people could potentially get sick or pass it along,” Joplin said. “With us being in a smaller space indoors, we really didn’t feel that social distancing could be regulated very easily, especially if people are starting to get excited and partying or that sort of thing.”
Inslee also issued new phase 2 and 3 guidelines for local fitness centers. Outdoor fitness classes are limited to a maximum of 12 people, excluding instructors and small group sessions are now only allowed if 300 square feet of spacing — about 17 feet in either direction — is possible.
Those exercising in a stationary location must also maintain 300 square feet of distance. A spotter is allowed if they wear a mask.
Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to email@example.com.