Inslee announces partial reopening of recreational activities

Jessica Perez, Central News Watch

Jessica Perez/Central News Watch

Gov. Jay Inslee announced a partial reopening of recreation starting May 5. The relaxation of recreational restrictions comes after a decline in hospitalizations was observed by the governor’s office. The activities that will be allowed again are fishing, hunting, golfing, day use of state parks and land and day use of fish and wildlife lands.

Inslee made this announcement during his Monday press conference. He was joined by the State Commissioner for Public Lands Hilary Fronz, Director of Washington Fish and Wildlife Kelly Susewind and Director of Washington Parks and Recreation Don Hoch. They all agreed social distancing should continue to take place during these activities.

“This is not a return to normal today,” Inslee said. “The virus is too rampid to allow that.”

The governor also emphasized this was a decision based on data and if cases began to increase again, restrictions on recreation would have to be set in place again.

Fronz said it was a difficult decision to close recreational land because people go to these places for their physical, mental and emotional health. She said  opening up recreation is a step towards normalcy.

“I truly believe connecting people with nature is the first step in a long journey back to normalcy,” Fronz said.

While most recreational activities are being brought back, camping and clam digging are still closed to the public. For the activities that are allowed, special rules must be followed to decrease the spread of covid.

Susewind said to travel locally. “Locally” was intentionally left undefined, so people could make their own decisions about what is considered local. However, Susewind recommends sticking to day trips.

In addition to traveling locally, golfing can only be played in twos. With other activities, like hunting, partners should be limited to those inside your household. One person from outside your household can join you, but traveling together in a vehicle is discouraged. People participating in these activities are also encouraged to bring their own supplies and food so they don’t overwhelm popular recreation towns.