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Washington businesses that violate coronavirus mandates could face penalties

Gov. Jay Inslee said that the state has received complaints from residents that some "non-essential" businesses remain open, despite the state "stay home" order.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — One week after the state issued a "stay home" order that closed many businesses in an attempt to slow the state's coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday that the state will penalize non-essential businesses that stay open in violation of the order.

"The state is going to take action," including citations and revoking business licenses, Inslee said. "Taking people to court is the very last thing that will be considered and should not be necessary under any conditions for folks who really value the health of their loved ones and respect for everyone in our community."

RELATED: Real-time updates: Latest news on the Washington coronavirus outbreak

At a press conference on Monday, he announced that residents can now use a form at coronavirus.wa.gov to report violators. That form is available at this link.

The governor asked people not to call 9-1-1 to report violations, and to reserve that number for true emergencies.

The "stay home" order closed businesses that are open to the public, except for those that are "essential." Essential businesses include grocery stores, cannabis stores, restaurants with delivery or take-out, agriculture companies, news media, child care, and more.

The stay home order also asked residents to leave their homes only for necessary errands, such as grocery shopping, going to the pharmacy, going to the doctor or caring for a family member or friend. People may also go outside to walk or hike, ride a bike or walk a dog, if they are observing social distancing guidelines.

Inslee said at the press conference that since the order was mandated last week, the state has been getting "thousands" of calls from residents concerned about businesses that continue to operate despite not being on the state's list of "essential businesses." 

RELATED: Wok About Grill closes after owner says he 'will not comply' with Inslee's ban

The governor was joined by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, as well as Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett and Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl who participated in the briefing remotely.

The speakers said that options for enforcing the order on businesses include citations, business license revocations, up to civil and criminal proceedings.

"Please don't confuse our request for voluntary compliance as optional compliance," Meidl said.

Watch the entire media briefing here: