***Press Release from the Office of Governor Jay Inslee***
Gov. Jay Inslee announced yesterday a partial re-opening of some outdoor recreation activities.
“When I rolled out, ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ over a month ago, difficult decisions were made to close state parks and public lands, golf facilities, and delaying hunting and fishing seasons. This was necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, reduce travel and ultimately, save lives,” Inslee said.
“Outdoor recreation is one of the best things we can do promote physical, mental and emotional well-being for Washingtonians during a time of great stress and isolation. And springtime in our state is Washington at its best and people want to be out enjoying outdoor activities in a safe and responsible way.”
As of Tuesday, May 5, some outdoor recreation will be allowed with appropriate safety precautions including: fishing; hunting; playing golf; day use at state parks, state public lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources and at state Fish and Wildlife areas.
The governor stressed that all of these activities must be done with appropriate social distancing and the safety and security of participants and the people who work in outdoor recreation.
“If we see a sharp uptake in the number of people who are getting sick or are not following appropriate steps, then we won’t hesitate to scale this back again,” Inslee said. “This is not a return to normal. This is only a beginning phase of relaxing outdoor recreation restrictions.”
Public gatherings, events, team sports, and camping, among other things, are not resuming at this time.
Notably, the actions the state is taking in no way prevent the closure actions of local governments or national agencies, who may choose to continue their park, land and trail closures based on local public health needs.
Inslee was joined at the announcement by:
- Commissioner Hilary Franz, commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources
- Kelly Susewind, director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Don Hoch, director of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.
The outdoor activities include guidelines and restrictions.
1) Anyone exhibiting any cold or flu-like symptoms shall not participate in outdoor recreation activities.
2) Any state parks, state public lands, hunting and fishing seasons, golf facilities, trails, and other public parks, public lands and trails may be closed at any time if there is reason to believe unsafe conditions exist or social distancing practices are not being adhered to.
3) People must recreate locally: Do not travel farther than necessary and do not stay overnight to recreate.
4) Limit your recreation partners to only those who live within your household unit.
5) Practice social distancing at trailheads, boat launches, and all areas where you encounter others.
6) Utilize facial coverings in any situation where social distancing is not possible.
7) Bring your own food and supplies when possible. This will help protect others in your community.
8) The Golf Alliance of Washington has been working to provide appropriate social distancing and limits on activities. These include spacing out tee times, limits on size of parties, walking-only (unless someone needs to be in the cart for mobility reasons), no on-site beverage or food service (take-away only, just as with other food service) and more.
“Today’s announcement is another great example of industries coming together to help ensure that activity that is important to Washingtonians can continue in a safe and healthy way during this pandemic,” Inslee said. “I’m confident that Washingtonians who love outdoors as much as I do will do the right thing and and recreate in a healthy and safe way.”
“The people of Washington have made great sacrifices as we fight the spread of COVID-19. One such sacrifice, felt profoundly by those who treasure the outdoors, was the closure of state parks and recreation areas,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the elected official who leads the DNR. “Because of our shared sacrifice and the heroic work of our first responders, we can begin reopening our public lands. Reconnecting people with nature is the first step of a long journey back to normalcy. However, as we reopen we cannot stop being diligent in the fight against this virus. We all need to make sure we continue to do as much as we can to keep our families and communities healthy.”
“We’re happy to once again provide outdoor opportunities to the people of Washington who have been following the governor’s order to stay home and save lives,” says Washington State Parks Director Don Hoch. “We’re looking forward to welcoming our visitors back and providing outdoor recreation in a safe and responsible way.”
“Because we’ve seen so many people doing their part to stay home, we’re now at a point where we’re able to begin welcoming people back outdoors,” said Kelly Susewind, WDFW director. “I’m asking people to take what they’ve learned these past few weeks and continue putting these measures into play as you fish, hunt, and enjoy your local wildlife area. We’re happy to re-open these opportunities, and we need you to continue working with us to stay safe.”
“On behalf of the Golf Alliance of Washington, we would first like to thank Governor Inslee and his team for the leadership and utmost attention to the safety of all Washingtonians. Additionally, thank you to all the first responders for the courage and sacrifices being made for all of us. With vast areas of open space containing green grass, ponds and trees, a golf course provides the ability for social distancing in a stress-free environment. The physical activity and mental wellness that golf provides can be a solution to improve the moods and reduce anxiety for many residents in our state,” Troy Andrew, Executive Director of Washington Golf and spokesperson for Golf Alliance of Washington. “Furthermore, by golf courses being open, it will provide economic activity and jobs. The Golf Alliance of Washington has worked closely with the governor and the golf community in creating additional measures that are way outside the norm, to assure maximum social distancing and safety at all golf courses for the foreseeable future.”
The governor also signed proclamation 20–25.2 along with the announcement.