Some local parks and practically all golf courses have reopened in Washington state
Doug Ramsay file photo
Erik Rodriguez, at the time 12, fishes on the Snohomish River in 2013.
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Cities and the county this week are starting to open some parks simultaneously with the governor’s opening of state parks, and golf courses are making preparations as state coronavirus-restrictions against golfing and fishing were lifted May 5.
Playgrounds and sports courts remain closed, and cities are keeping park restrooms closed.
Snohomish plans to re-open access to gated-off parks such as Hill Park and Pilchuck Park, sometime this week, Mayor John Kartak said. He said he’s going to reopen “probably all of them,” depending on parks staff schedules. Snohomish kept other parks open for passive use.
Monroe will open a select few fishing holes and nature areas: Al Borlin Park, Lake Tye and Sky River Park.
Snohomish County reopened the trailheads and greenspace at its regional parks, such as Lord Hill and Willis Tucker parks, earlier this week.
Flowing Lake Park remained closed because it’s under construction.
Everett Parks opened its parking lots and boat launches on May 5, and also reopened Walter E. Hall and Legion Memorial golf courses for limited use.
Some of Everett’s open areas and trails were already open to explore. Everett encourages residents to use parks for runs, bike rides or walks.
“Playgrounds, restrooms, off-leash areas, skate parks, picnic shelter rentals and sports courts will remain closed for the time being,” Everett city spokeswoman Kimberley Cline said.
May 5 marked a big reopening for golf in the state.
Blue Boy, Kenwanda, Cedarcrest and the Everett Golf & Country Club golf courses all said their opening day was May 5. Other area courses weren’t available for comment or didn’t respond.
Call ahead: Some courses will allow foursomes, while one said it’s planning to limit games to just twosomes.
Kenwanda will have 9-hole golf open but not 18, a person at the course said.
All golf courses will need to follow a rulebook of COVID-19 precautions before allowing play. One of them: No golf club or equipment rentals will be permitted. You must bring your own equipment.
Most of the rules relate to having players avoid touching things, such as reinventing how golfers reach into the cup to retrieve their ball. Congregating after the game won’t be allowed.
Other rules appear to be for tracking COVID-19: You’ll have to sign a logbook before playing.
Standalone golf driving ranges will be allowed to re-open, said Jon Snyder, the governor’s policy adviser on outdoor recreation.
Playgrounds, spray pads and park shelters are being kept closed.
Monroe is only opening Sky River, Al Borlin and Lake Tye parks. “All other existing park closures need to stay in effect” to comply with the governor’s orders, city parks director Mike Farrell told the City Council last week.
The city barricaded Lake Tye’s skate park with a six-foot fence to keep people out after they ignored signs. Even so, the city found a small group had gotten past, or went over, the fence to go skateboarding, Mayor Geoffrey Thomas said.
Officials hope people won’t congregate. The same social distancing rules about staying six feet away from people you don’t live with are still in effect. On trails, the governor suggests when passing people to step far off to the side to maintain distance.
The governor’s office left closure decisions to local governments, Snyder said.
Officials emphasize that just the people within a household should be joining you while recreating as part of the safety dance. So, you can fish if you want to, but you must leave your friends behind.
Some other rules are:
• People must still abide by social distancing. No clustering on the dock.
• People from multiple households should not go together in the same boat.
• Golf games are to have no more than two players from separate households per tee time. A golf course can choose to allow foursomes of people from the same house.
In related news: State parks, lakes re-open for daytime use
Many forms of recreation on state lands reopened May 5, but don’t drag out the camping gear.
Day use of state parks and state lands will now be allowed, as will fishing and hunting sites on state rivers and forests.
Public gatherings, events, team sports and camping, among other things, are not resuming at this time.
Camping of all kinds is still prohibited, as is clam digging. Working a plan for the state’s beach areas is still being discussed, in part because the state doesn’t want tourists filling small ocean towns.
The public is asked to be prepared. The idea is that people would go to the recreation area and then go back home. People are asked to bring their sanitizer, masks, food and equipment with them.
National parks are still closed, but parklands managers are talking with the federal government about re-opening these parks.
Officials emphasized that people need to stay socially distant from each other on public spaces, and to avoid crowds.
Inslee warned during a press conference April 27 that these permissions could be revoked if the data shows a reverse in COVID-19 cases.
“This is not a return to normal, the virus is too rampant,” Inslee said.
He was joined by the directors of the State Department of Natural Resources, State Parks and Washington Fish and Wildlife as well as the governor’s policy adviser on outdoor recreation.
In a statement, Inslee said: “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. This is not a return to normal. This is only a beginning phase of relaxing outdoor recreation restrictions.”
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