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New Washington COVID-19 restrictions draw pushback from small businesses, GOP lawmakers

From Republican lawmakers to business owners, some in the public and private sectors wish they could have weighed in on Washington's new COVID-19 restrictions.

DES MOINES, Wash. — Hannah Tyler made sure her gym in Des Moines got the novel coronavirus makeover. Workout equipment is now spaced out, masks are required and building capacity is closely monitored.

"In the smaller space, we are able to maintain a cleanliness standard and able to adhere to really specific guidelines that were in place previously," explained Tyler.

Despite her efforts, Tyler learned with the rest of the state on Sunday that businesses like hers, an Anytime Fitness franchise, will have to close again for four weeks due to new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Washington.

"My reaction is disappointment, honestly," said Tyler. 

She is not the only one disappointed by the new round of pandemic restrictions, restrictions the Washington Hospitality Association predicts will cause the loss of 100,000 jobs. Republican State Senator Mark Schoesler is someone else who is disappointed. 

"We have to work together, not in a vacuum behind closed doors," said Schoesler.

He said decisions for new restrictions should not be made by one person or one party but during an emergency special session. Schoesler said any requests for a special session were denied. 

"We have 39 counties in the state, and I think all 39 counties deserve a chance to be heard," explained Schoesler. 

Mike Faulk, communications director for Gov. Jay Inslee, recognized that state Republicans have been calling for emergency sessions but claim they did not specify “what they want to accomplish or how it would actually help the people” of Washington.

If given the chance, Schoesler said he hoped to have advocated more for small businesses like Tyler’s during a special session.

"Our voice should be heard and be part of the discussion," said Tyler. 

The gym owner said not one COVID-19 outbreak in the state has been found at fitness centers like hers and does not understand why she has to close. 

Though she disagrees, Tyler will shut her doors in compliance but hopes the closure doesn't last any longer than it has to.

"Hopefully something will change that we can open our doors again and we can help this community get healthy," said Tyler.

Most of the new coronavirus restrictions will go into effect Monday at 11:59 p.m. and will remain in effect until Dec. 14. Modified restrictions for restaurants will take effect Wednesday, November 18 at 12:01 a.m.