ANACORTES — The city of Anacortes will not host its “Open Streets” event downtown this weekend due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Skagit County.

The city had planned to shut down eight blocks of Commercial Avenue to vehicle traffic Friday evening through Saturday evening to allow businesses to expand onto the streets to allow for more physical distracting among shoppers and diners.

The city cancelled the event Wednesday following conversations with Skagit County Public Health, and because hosting the event would send the wrong message to the community, Anacortes Mayor Laurie Gere said.

“Even if we did everything we should, to be safe with social distancing, wearing of masks, providing hand washing and sanitizing stations, the fact is it’s not safe to gather together yet,” Gere wrote in an email.

From July 7 to 14, Skagit County reported 69 new positive cases and three new hospitalizations. The county reported last week its 16th death from COVID-19, the first death since May 18, according to public health data.

Gere said the city will look at hosting the Open Streets event once the county moves to Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.

“I would like to get to Phase 3, but we’re not going in right direction,” she said.

Gere said in her weekly COVID-19 video briefing on Wednesday afternoon that Skagit County is failing to meet three of five metrics needed to move a county to Phase 3, though Inslee has paused counties advancing to new phases through July 28.

Laura Gelwicks, county spokesperson, said that the county’s public health director on Wednesday strongly discouraged the mayors of Anacortes and other cities from hosting events such as Open Streets in light of the rising number of cases.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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