Last weekend, Seattle closed its largest, most popular parks and beaches due to concerns that crowds enticed by warmer weather would spread the coronavirus. This weekend, the city is keeping all its parks open, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced, but with restrictions.
“The city will allow major parks to remain open throughout the weekend but will be requiring residents to keep moving and not play sports, picnic or barbecue, with additional new guidelines at Green Lake and Seward Park,” a news release said Thursday.
Sunny skies last weekend drew hundreds of people to the 15 parks that were closed, including Magnuson Park, Gas Works Park, Volunteer Park and Lincoln Park, forcing Seattle Parks and Recreation employees to shoo them away in some cases.
But there were no serious crowds, and the city described residents as “overwhelmingly compliant.” Restrooms were kept open, and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness asked Parks and Recreation not to bother people with nowhere else to go.
The National Weather Service’s weekend outlook says the Seattle area can expect a few showers Saturday, with highs in the upper 50s and low 60s, and dry weather Sunday, with highs in the upper 50s and mid 60s.
Parking lots at the major parks will remain closed. Seattle banned the use of playgrounds, athletic fields and sports courts weeks ago, taping off playground structures and swings.
This weekend, the loop trails at Green Lake and Seward Park will be open only to pedestrians, and the Green Lake trail will be one-way only; “beach activities” will be banned at Golden Gardens and Alki Beach, with fire pits closed.
In addition, the city is closing 2.5 miles of residential streets in the Central District and West Seattle starting Saturday, to allow pedestrians and people biking more space to move around and comply with social-distancing recommendations. In the coming weeks, 15 miles of streets will be closed.
“The governor’s order is stay home — not stay out,” Durkan said in the release, referring to Gov. Jay Inslee’s order directing Washington residents to stay home except for essential activities. “The social distancing necessary to keep us healthy will mean a new normal for Seattle’s parks.”
The mayor said people should use their smaller, neighborhood parks; “keep it moving” by walking, running, rolling or biking; visit parks during off-peak hours; and avoid crowds.
“We know that this virus isn’t leaving our community for a long time, but I am hopeful that Seattle can adapt,” Durkan said.
Parks and Recreation will be monitoring conditions over the weekend and will close parks if there are too many gatherings or too many people, the release said. Parks “ambassadors” will be stationed at major parks to remind people to keep their distance from one another, and signs are being installed, as well.