Gov. Inslee announces partial reopening of outdoor recreation on May 5
Gov. Inslee announced a partial reopening of outdoor recreation on May 5 assuming healthy guidelines continue responsibly among Washingtonians. Watch the video here.
“This is a data driven decision,” Inslee said.
The governor warned that this decision could change in the future if the virus returns.
Restrictions will ease for day use of state parks, day use of public lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources, and day use of state fish and wildlife areas, including fishing, hunting and the ability to play golf. Inslee emphasized that social distancing guidelines must be followed and safety measures like masks and hand sanitzer must be used.
Inslee said they’ve been working with the Golf Alliance of Washington to create social distancing guidelines.
“We’ll be playing in twosomes for a while unless a foursome is from one household, and we always have to social distance out on the course,” Inslee said.
He added that you can only play with one other person from outside of your household, and you must still socially distance. There also won’t be sit-down or beverage service.
Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order remains in effect until May 4. Cities, counties, and tribal lands can enact or maintain their own restrictions at parks.
The governor said, “This is not a return to normal today. The virus is too rampant to allow that. This is only a beginning of a phase to relaxing our outdoor recreation … Data, not dates determine how we act.”
Inslee said that there is a plan to reopen the state, but it depends on data collected regarding the status of the virus. Large gatherings, like sporting events, and camping are not resuming. He said you still can’t go to a park with friends to have a picnic. You should also step off the trail and give other hikers at least six feet of space.
The governor added that recreating should be limited to local travel and not including overnight stays. Nobody outside of your household should be traveling in the same car. Bring your own supplies to avoid stopping.
“Thanks to the shared sacrifice of everyone and the heroic work of our first responders, our doctors, our nurses we are able to take steps today to reopen our public lands,” said Hilary Franz, commissioner of Public Lands. “I truly believe that reconnecting people with nature is the first step in a long journey back to normalcy.”
Franz said that means we must all take steps to recreate responsibly — bringing along hand sanitizer and masks, and following social distancing rules.
Kelly Susewind, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said he’s pleased to be able to reopen wildlife areas and boat launches and most of the state’s seasonal fishing and hunting seasons on May 5.
Marine area 1-4 will not be open to fishing yet, nor will clams or shellfish, Susewind explained. Camping on WDFW land is also still prohibited.
“I really want to thank everybody for your patience,” Susewind said. “We know this is a sacrifice.”
He added that the department is refunding license fees and working with hunters to reestablish preference points for drawings.
“This important step will provide the public the opportunity to reconnect with nature, reduce some of the stresses of being confined in our homes and instill a little sense of normalcy back into our lives,” said Don Hoch, director of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.
Not every state park will reopen on May 5. Hoch said they’re working with local jurisdictions to avoid people flocking to places like beach communities. They’re working to determine the best approach and timing for reopening those parks.
An on-the-water protest on Lake Union took place over the weekend, with demonstrators demanding that Inslee lift Washington’s ban on fishing during the state’s ongoing stay-at-home order.
That included fishermen in dozens of boats, claiming that maintaining safe social distancing while fishing is a key facet of the sport.