State parks, boat launches and golf courses will be the first recreational activities to restart starting May 5.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday afternoon that state parks, state boat ramps and golf courses can slowly start reopening for day-use. The news comes a few days after Inslee allowed some construction projects to resume, marking the first easing of the governor’s stay-home order.
“We do think some small changing of that dial is appropriate, but we are so far from being able to turn this off like a light switch, that is just way too dangerous,” Inslee said in a Monday news conference.
The reopening applies to state-managed parks, such as Camano Island State Park and Camano Beach State Park, in addition to wildlife areas, recreation land, boat launches, and natural areas. Camping and other overnight accommodations will remain closed. DNR recreation sites will be opened up as soon as possible beginning May 5. The public can find the latest information on site openings at dnr.wa.gov/open.
Officials urge people to stay close to home. If the destination is crowded, be prepared to go somewhere else or come back at another time, officials said.
“This is not a return to normal today, the virus is too rampant to allow that,” Inslee said. “This is only a beginning phase of relaxing our outdoor recreation.”
As of Monday afternoon, there were 2,356 cases, 203 probable cases and 103 deaths in Snohomish County — up from 2,163 cases a week prior. There have been 81 cases and seven deaths in Stanwood. In Island County, there have been 171 cases and nine deaths, including 36 cases and no deaths on Camano Island.
Inslee announced Friday a plan to allow low-risk construction to resume with new COVID-19 safety requirements to protect workers.
The plan allows existing projects to resume only if safety requirements, including social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation and cleanliness, screening of employees for COVID-19 symptoms, among other measures, are followed.
A majority of construction, including residential, was halted and deemed nonessential by the statewide stay-home order that went into effect in March.
Inslee said there is no timeline yet for reopening the economy and that “all our data shows if we (reopened) today the virus would return with a vengeance.”
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new recommendations Monday designed to help restaurants, schools, churches and businesses safely reopen as states gradually lift their coronavirus restrictions. Among the new guidance is that businesses should close break rooms, restaurants should consider disposable menus and plates, and schools should have students eat lunch in their classrooms.
However, the new federal guidance amounts to advice. State and local officials will adopt and enforce steps to return to normal.
In Washington, where more than 13,500 people have tested positive for the virus and at least 749 have died, Inslee has expressed caution about fully reopening the state too quickly.
He said the removal of certain restrictions would be phased in based on statewide health data.
In the case of outdoor recreation, Inslee said those who are exhibiting signs of illness must stay home and that people must limit their partners in these activities to those who live within their household. He also said people must recreate locally and not make overnight trips to other areas.
Inslee said that the Golf Alliance of Washington has established several limits, including spacing out of tee times, limits on the number of people golfing together and take-away food and beverage service only.
Good news! Many #WaStateParks reopen May 5 — for day use only. We're looking forward to seeing you again! Later this week we'll have more details on which parks will reopen. Please #RecreateResponsibly & follow guidelines: https://t.co/cqfRQv8KC7#responsiblerecreation pic.twitter.com/Yp1l4mokii— WaStatePks (@WAStatePks) April 27, 2020