Recent proclamations made by Gov. Jay Inslee in response to the COVID-19 pandemic forced area businesses to close, events to be cancelled and quieted the streets of Eatonville.
Pubs, restaurants, parlors, shops, the library and non-essential businesses have temporarily shut down. Some restaurants remain open for take-out, and the local grocery story, The Plaza, and other essential businesses who’ve remained open have reduced their hours significantly.
The Town of Eatonville, Eatonville School District, all fraternal organizations and non-profits have cancelled their events for the foreseeable future.
In response to Inslee’s stay-at-home proclamation on March 23 and ensuing health concerns, Eatonville Mayor Mike Schaub issued a “proclamation of emergency” letter on March 24.
“The town has implemented some operational changes aimed at protecting the health and safety of everyone in the community,” Schaub wrote. “While some of these changes are not desirable, they are necessary at this time … We need to be vigilant in our actions to protect the health and safety of others.”
Eatonville’s Visitor Center and all public restrooms have been closed since March 13.
Additionally, Mill Pond, Smallwood and Glacier parks were closed March 25, according to The Town of Eatonville Facebook page.
Pack Forest, The Bud Blancher and Mashell Falls trails are also being blocked. The gate to Scott Turner Road, often used for lake and fishing access, has been closed.
Despite Gov. Inslee’s warnings to practice social distancing by maintaining a 6-foot distance between one another, large groups continued to congregate at state parks, wildlife and recreational areas and water access points, which resulted in their closure on March 25. Camping on public lands is also banned.
A staple to local business, recreational tourists will cease to bring money into town.
In addition, many community members are struggling with unemployment, reduced hours and less income.
Gypsy’s Wagon, a popular coffee shop in town, reduced its staff from two to seven after business slowed down, owner Emily Blackett said. Local car salesman Steve Collins said he hasn’t sold a vehicle since the first week of March.
Despite hardships, community members are coming together to increase awareness about current struggles, raise funds and donate to local causes.
Jesse Lee, a local musician, is selling glass cups engraved with the words “Giving back to our community 2020” for $10. All profits are going directly to local food banks, he said.
“With everything that’s going on right now, it’s very important that we’re all putting in our effort,” Lee said. “We have to ask ourselves what we can do locally for our own community and how we can help.”
Prairie Dawn, the owner of Best Kept Secret Tattoo in Eatonville, is now making and donating masks for local health care providers. She has over 50 masks on order for a local hospital. Dawn is also selling masks to community members to help supplement her income.
Ashford senior citizen Joan Painter said that her neighbors have been assisting her with groceries. Brenda Smith, an employee at Eatonville Water Treatment, said she is also delivering groceries for anyone needing assistance and is posting flyers around town.
Playing a part in local relief, The Town of Eatonville announced it will not be assessing any utility bill late fees for March and is offering accommodations if additional time is needed for payments.
Eatonville Family Agency Deputy Director Kylee Hutchings said that donations increased at their food bank this last week.
Eatonville Police Chief Jason Laliberte also praised community members in a Facebook post.
“I am continually impressed with the spirit of the citizens of the Town of Eatonville,” he said. “It is evident that you (we) are a proud and protective community … We will get through this together.”
Schaub implored residents to look after one another.
“As we go about our daily lives, remember we need to care for each other,” he said. “All of us are up to the task and challenges before us, and working and staying together, we will get through this challenging time and come out a stronger community.”
The Town of Eatonville posts regular updates on its Facebook page and also responds to messages there. Updates for Eatonville’s COVID-19 response can also be found at https://eatonville-wa.gov/covid-19-information/.