Seattle’s major parks will be open again this weekend, with the same coronavirus-related restrictions that applied last weekend, according to the city.
The loop trails at Green Lake Park and Seward Park will remain open only to pedestrians. Beach activities will remain banned at Golden Gardens and Alki Beach. Park goers will again be encouraged to “keep it moving” by walking, running or biking, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre said. Parking lots at large parks will remain closed.
Hundreds of small, neighborhood parks have been open throughout the pandemic. But Seattle banned the use of playgrounds, athletic fields and sports courts weeks ago, taping off playground structures and swings.
Coronavirus crowding concerns prompted Mayor Jenny Durkan to close 15 major parks during the weekend of April 11, which was marked by sunny spring weather. The mayor kept those parks open last weekend and visits spiked last Sunday, when the weather warmed up again, according to data collected by Parks and Rec employees.
The employees recorded 17,277 people in the 15 major parks last Sunday, as the temperature climbed to a pleasant 65 degrees, up from only 5,989 people last Saturday, which was gray and cooler.
“Saturday was typical weather,” Aguirre said in an interview. “Then Sunday was beautiful …. In Seattle, we’ve mostly been indoors since November, so the beautiful days really push people out.”
Crowding concerns could be dampened by the weather this weekend. As of Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service was forecasting rain Saturday, with a high of 62 degrees, and clouds Sunday, again with a high of 62.
Parks and Rec employees counted people about 2,000 times at Seattle’s major parks between April 16 and April 22. Green Lake Park was the most popular over that period, with 8,351 people counted there.
Alki Beach attracted the most people at any one time, with 650 park goers counted all at once.
This week, the city used lumber and tape to restrict access to most benches and picnic tables along the popular stretch (some benches will remain open for people with disabilities and limited mobility).
“Every park is different,” Aguirre said. “Alki has been a challenge. It’s narrow and really popular. The crowds there can make social distancing hard.
Some parks were surveyed more than others. For example, employees made 270 tallies at Magnuson Park but only 93 tallies at Kubota Garden. Aguirre described the tallies as “snapshots,” rather than scientific reports.
The employees reported only minimal instances of problematic crowding and most park goers who were warned to stay away from each other complied. Parks and Rec employees carried out 434 “direct interventions.”
“By and large, people are complying when they can,” Aguirre said.
The “keep it moving” guidelines aren’t ideal, Aguirre said. “But we need people to help” keep the spread of the coronavirus in check, he said.