Seattle parks will remain open for what’s expected to be a warm and sun-soaked Mother’s Day weekend, though officials are worried about crowds spreading the coronavirus.
More than a dozen major parks will have shorter hours than usual. Starting Friday, 17 large parks will close each day at 8 p.m., rather than 11:30 p.m., Mayor Jenny Durkan and parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre said during an online news conference Thursday. The city is making the change to deter barbecues, bonfires and parties, they said.
Also, the same “keep it moving” restrictions that have been in place since mid-April will apply in the city’s parks this weekend, Durkan and Aguirre said. Under that policy, parks are supposed to be used for running, walking and biking, rather than picnicking, gathering and playing sports.
Motorized boat ramps, tennis courts, basketball courts, play areas, picnic tables and shelters and playgrounds are closed in all parks, as they have been for many weeks. Parking lots at major parks are closed, as well.
Durkan and Aguirre said they want residents to visit Seattle’s more than 400 smaller, neighborhood parks rather than thronging to the city’s major, destination parks, and should consider visiting parks in the morning rather than the afternoon. They said parkgoers should stay six feet apart and said people who are sick should stay home.
“We really need Seattle to be smart. We don’t want to be those people we see by the thousands storming the beaches in Florida or Southern California,” Durkan said. “Most of us are still susceptible to this virus, and when we come together, that’s when the virus can spread … If you get to a park and it’s crowded, turn around and walk the other way.”
Mother’s Day weekend is typically a busy time in Seattle’s parks, and the National Weather Service is forecasting sunny skies Saturday and Sunday, with high temperatures above 80 degrees.
The 8 p.m. closures will apply at these parks: Alki Beach, Cal Anderson, Carkeek, Discovery, Gas Works, Golden Gardens, Green Lake, Kubota Garden, Lincoln, Magnuson, Seward, Volunteer, Washington Park Arboretum, West Seattle Stadium, Myrtle Edwards, Judkins and Woodland.
More than 60 parks employees will be out and about this weekend to issue “keep it moving” and social distancing reminders, Aguirre said. Police officers will help close the major parks at 8 p.m., he said.
Durkan said, “I have a lot of confidence in the people of Seattle to follow the rules. Please don’t leave it to the park ambassadors to have to tell you.”
The city has closed more than 20 miles of neighborhoods streets to vehicle traffic in recent weeks to allow more space for people to walk and bike.
Most restrooms in the major parks will close at 8 p.m., spokesman Otts Bolisay said in an email. Portable toilets placed at parks and at other sites near homeless encampments will remain open at night, Bolisay said.
In addition, brick-and-mortar restrooms at these park locations will remain open 24 hours a day, Bolisay said: Alki Beach (at bathhouse), Alki Beach (at 63rd Avenue Southwest), Ballard Commons, Bradner Gardens Park, East Queen Anne Playground, Gas Works Park, Genesee Playfield, Green Lake (at wading pool), Green Lake (at Northeast 65th Street) and Queen Anne Bowl.