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Seattle Cracks Down On Construction

Seattle Cracks Down On Construction
Gov. Jay Inslee says law enforcement will begin to address nonessential businesses that are defying the stay-at-home order.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday that businesses violating Seattle's nonessential business closure order will be subject to penalties.

The state has implemented a hotline to report businesses and contractors who continue to do business despite orders to cease operations.

Last week, Inslee clarified that residential construction is not deemed “essential” and should immediately cease. Many in the industry, however, did not heed the order.

From semitrucks delivering residential building products to residential neighborhoods in the middle of the night to contractors continuing construction on homes during the day, it was clear Monday that many in the construction industry opted to disregard the order. 

A petition called Construction Work Is Essential had 3,886 signatures as of 4 p.m. Monday and that number was rapidly climbing. Signees included residents who say the order puts homeowners, construction workers, company owners, banks and others at more risk than the virus itself. They argue that social distancing can easily be practiced on residential job sites.

Inslee didn't agree. He said his office has received thousands of calls from concerned residents about businesses, such as residential contractors, that are violating the order. He is enlisting the help of Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who backed up the governor’s order. 

The governor told concerned citizens to file a complaint through the state, not to call 911. Law enforcement officers at the press conference said they would send officers out to address the complaints if available.

The first offense will be a warning that violators need to comply. The second offense includes citations and suspension of licenses, including business licenses. Taking violators to court is the last resort, but will be done if necessary, Ferguson said.