SEATTLE — For now, there are still no picnics, no bonfires, no volleyball at Seattle parks.
Seattle's major city parks will be closed nightly at 8 p.m. starting Friday May 8 and will last the duration of the state's stay-at-home order, and park staff will remind visitors to keep walking and not linger, in order to continue of social distancing.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said at a Thursday press conference that she hopes that parks visitors will monitor themselves.
"We really need Seattle to be smart. We don’t want to be those people that we see by the thousands storming the beaches in Florida or Southern California," she said. "Crowded parks will become closed parks."
Social distancing has been encouraged at parks in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the respiratory illness COVID-19.
While Seattle parks have remained open since the pandemic hit the area, except for Easter weekend, signs have reminded people to keep their distance from each other and not to gather together. Picnic areas, sports fields and play structures have been closed, as well as parking areas.
Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesus Aguirre said he hoped that people would adhere to social distancing measures so the city can keep parks open.
"We encourage people to stay at home, and stay local," Aguirre said. "If folks have to get into a car, or even a bike, you've probably gone too far."
The major parks with adjusted hours will include: Alki, Cal Anderson, Carkeek, Discovery, Gas Works, Golden Gardens, Green Lake, Kubota Garden, Magnuson, Seward, Lincoln, Volunteer, Washington Park Arboretum, West Seattle Stadium, Myrtle Edwards, Judkins and Woodland parks. Many of the parks normally close at 10 p.m.
Aguirre also reminded people that swimming areas are closed, and that swimming is more dangerous in the springtime because of the temperature of the water.
Also, on Friday, May 8, Seattle Parks and Recreation will reopen limited accessible (ADA) parking at four major parks: Lincoln Park, Seward Park, Green Lake Park, and Magnuson Park.
Parking lots at the most popular parks have been closed since March in order to keep people away. Except for the ADA parking, the parking lot closures are still in effect, the city posted on its parks blog.
Durkan at the press briefing said that Seattleites were "smart enough" to know to continue with social distancing measures while recreating.
"We know we’re in the middle of the pandemic. It’s still a health crisis for our city. And we do not want to see the return of days when we were worried about whether our nurses would have the equipment they needed or whether our hospitals are overrun," Durkan said.
Durkan also announced that the city's "Stay Healthy Streets" initiative that increased pedestrian and bicycle space in certain neighborhoods during the coronavirus crisis is here to stay.
"People have more ways to get out safely and get out and walk and bike," Durkan said.
The streets were selected to create outdoor exercise opportunities in neighborhoods with limited open space options, low car ownership and routes connecting people to essential services and food take out.
"We also know there are projects that we need to continue or accelerate and invest in the city we want to be when we come out of this. That includes a range of programs both those that help people that are most in need as well as those programs that help our public realm and our public infrastructure” Durkan said.
You can watch the entire Thursday briefing here: