Some King County parks and public lands will reopen Friday, May 8, as the first phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to reopen Washington’s economy continues. After a six-week closure that was part of Inslee’s stay-home order to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, the reopening of Washington’s outdoors spaces began Tuesday with the reintroduction of fishing and hunting, golf and boating, and the reopening of state parks.
However, King County parks remained shut this week because “we needed time to assess our public health conditions locally and explore various re-opening scenarios for our parks and trails,” said Doug Williams, media relations coordinator for King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. “We also need time for staff to prepare our facilities, and to notify the public about changes in our operations. We want visitors to be as well-informed as possible before heading to our parks and trails.”
On Friday, they will reopen to visitors, with social-distancing rules remaining and limits on some areas and activities that bring people into close contact with each other.
What’s open? All King County backcountry trails, ball fields, community gardens, disc golf at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park, fields, Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome at Marymoor Park, Katherine Taylor Equestrian Park, paragliding at Poo Poo Point, parking lots, regional trails and radio control air fields will all be available for recreational use.
No organized activities will be allowed at ball fields, fields, or the velodrome, and some areas remain wholly off-limits: Sports courts, campgrounds, community centers, concessions areas, Marymoor Park’s climbing wall, picnic shelters, restrooms and Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center and Banquet Hall will all remain closed.
The complete list of openings is available on King County Parks’ website.
The county is encouraging visitors to parks to “Keep it Moving!” — that is, to limit outdoor time to activities like running and walking rather than congregating at trailheads or engaging in team sports.
Public Heath — Seattle & King County is also recommending that visitors comply with increasingly standard guidelines for outdoor recreation post-coronavirus. These include having a backup plan if any given location is too crowded, recreating only with other members of your household, giving other people “plenty of room,” communicating right-of-way and ceding to uphill hikers when passing on a trail, limiting activities to those you’re comfortable with to minimize the risk of adding to the current burden on health-care workers and following the leave-no-trace principle.
“Outdoor recreation is a great idea but we absolutely need to continue to take precautions to prevent bringing COVID-19 back home with us,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County, said in a Wednesday news release announcing the reopenings and social-distancing guidelines. “Everyone must practice safe distancing and good hand hygiene whether indoors or out because lives depend on it.”
Duchin said that if parks and trails were overcrowded or if proper social distancing wasn’t evident, those areas might need to be closed once again.