OLYMPIA — With proper precautions, people are allowed to begin golfing, fishing and hunting in Washington starting on May 5.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced the partial reopening of some outdoor recreation during a news conference on April 27. In addition to fishing, hunting and golfing, the state will reopen day use of state-managed public lands such as; state parks, wildlife areas and Department of Natural Resources recreation land. Day use of state-managed boat launches and marinas will be available as well.
Some parks may not open immediately depending on if reopening a site could increase the chance of covid-19 spreading to a rural community nearby.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is still working on a list of parks that will open on May 5, said Anna Gill, communications director for the commission. Once those decisions are made, the information will be posted on: parks.state.wa.gov/COVID19.
People are encouraged to call a park to check if it is open before traveling to it.
Campgrounds will remain closed. Team sports are also not allowed to restart, and large public gatherings are still banned under Inslee's stay home order.
Inslee was joined for the announcement by: Hilary Franz, commissioner of public lands; Kelly Susewind, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; and Don Hoch, director of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.
All recreation should be done within a person's local area, Susewind said. While the reopening order did not give a detailed description of what local area meant, Susewind said it shouldn't be further than a person can drive in a day.
The reopening will be monitored closely, 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," Inslee said. "This is not a return to normal. This is only a beginning phase of relaxing outdoor recreation restrictions.”
All freshwater fisheries will reopen May 5, as will Puget Sound saltwater fisheries, except for halibut, shrimp and intertidal shellfish harvesting, which will all remain closed statewide, according to a news release from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Coastal saltwater fishing and shellfish harvesting in marine areas one through four — which includes the Long Beach Peninsula — will remain closed. The state chose to leave closures in place after speaking with local health officials, who said they were concerned outside visitors might flock to the area.
Hunting for turkey and spring bear will open on May 5, and the spring bear season will be extended until June 30.
Golfing will be allowed, though people must golf in groups of two unless the group is from the same household, in which case groups of four may golf together.
Social distancing still in place
Inslee emphasized people must still be cautious when participating in outdoor recreation. His office recommended people who wish to travel should:
- Check what is open
- Pick somewhere close to home - avoid overnight stays
- Travel with immediate household members only
- Be prepared - bring soap or sanitizer, a mask, toilet paper, etc.
- To stay home if people aren't feeling well
- Avoid crowds - be prepared to go somewhere else if a recreation area is too crowded
- Practice physical distancing
- Wash hands often
- Pack out what is packed in