Because of continued gatherings in major parks and crowded public places, the City of Seattle announced the full closure of major regional parks this weekend where social distancing guidelines have not been followed by patrons. Seattle is joining major cities like Austin and Los Angeles across the country in closing major parks for the weekend. The change is effective Friday, April 10th at 11pm and will parks reopen on Monday, April 12 at 4:30 am. Data shows that social distancing measures are effectively reducing the transmission rate, but any easing of those measures could lead to a resurgence in transmission.
“These are the beautiful weather days we crave all winter, but we are living in unprecedented times and the Governor’s order isn’t stay out – it’s stay home. Seattle’s frontline medical workers, vulnerable residents, and displaced workers need you to stay home. While Seattle is expecting near perfect weather, friends and families should not have family or friend outings, picnics or gatherings in parks. Stay home unless you need to go to an essential job or business. If you need to take a walk in your neighborhood, be smart and don’t help create a crowded place. Too many friends, residents and families are continuing to gathering for picnics, BBQs, basketball games, and group walks. Because we still are in danger of a spike in infections, hospitalizations and deaths we have to keep doing out part. Easing up on social distancing too early will put more people at risk, could overwhelm our health care system, and could delay the reopening of businesses. Stay home, and if you must leave your home, be smart, follow social distancing guidelines by stay at lease six feet from everyone and wear a mask” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “Our collective effort has made an impact flattening the curve, but we must continue or face even greater and longer term consequences.”
Closing these parks temporarily will help ensure more people are keeping the distancing they need to from other people. While our neighborhood parks will remain open, the city will consider closing them or making temporary closures longer term if visitors can’t follow safety guidelines. While the City of Seattle has closed parking lots at the largest regional parks, significant gatherings and disregard for social distancing have continued.
Seattle Parks and Recreation’s eight destination parks Green Lake, Lincoln, Golden Gardens, Seward Park, Magnuson Park, Gas Works, Alki Beach, and Discovery, as well as Cal Anderson, Carkeek, Woodland Park, Volunteer Park, Kubota Garden, West Seattle Stadium, and the Washington Park Arboretum will close on Friday, April 10th at 11pm and will reopen Monday, April 12 at 4:30 am.. Stan Sayres, Magnuson, Don Armeni, and Atlantic St boat launches are also closed. Trails at Lake Washington Boulevard will remain open, but group gatherings will be prohibited. Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area and Rattlesnake Ledge Trail will remain closed. Next week, the City will is evaluating and implementing a park by park plan to ensure residents can safely utilize larger regional parks when they reopen.
“The Police Department is asking community members to continue to follow the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Seattle has worked so hard to flatten the COVID curve in our region, now is not the time for our community to become complacent,” said Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. “The Police Department supports the Mayor’s decision to close the parks, and we will work with the Parks Department to carry out this order. However, the Seattle Police Department cannot police us out this pandemic. Please stay at home for the health and safety of your family, friends, and loved ones.”
“As the weather has warmed up over the past few days, we’ve seen more and more people heading out to our regional parks, this has created a significant threat to the health and safety of our community. We are closing these parks to more firmly support the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, and to keep our most vulnerable neighbors safe,” said Jesus Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent.
Under the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, residents are encouraged stay home. If necessary, residents can visit local neighborhood parks so long as they:
- Practice social distancing: respect the minimum 6 feet of separation recommended by the CDC. While on trails, warn other users of their presence and as they pass, and step aside to let others pass.
- Do not access off limits equipment or areas: last month, Seattle and King County closed all play areas and other high touch areas, such as picnic shelters, tables, and outdoor exercise equipment.
- Do not congregate in parks: this means no pick-up games, no picnics, BBQs, parties, or bonfires.
- Maintain six feet of separation for activities: hiking, biking, walking are all great ways to enjoy parks right now, just remember to give a wide berth to your fellow residents.
- Stay home if they are feeling sick.
- Practice good hygiene: follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to and during use of parks or trails.
SPR and SPD will deploy staff to encourage social distancing at these highly frequented parks as well as locations such as Cal Anderson and Volunteer Park.