Phase 1 of reopening Washington began Tuesday, with many state parks and most fishing reopening. Golf courses, sidewalk-delivery for retail stores, car washes, landscaping and automobile sales also resumed under heightened safety measures. Crowds are still banned under the Phase 1 plan.
“It’s the day we’ve been waiting for,” tweeted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Tuesday. “Keep social distancing practices in mind while hunting, fishing or hiking, and remember not every restroom or dock is ready for use.”
Travel was limited to essential needs only, but as of Tuesday, it also included nonessential travel relating to Phase 1 activities.
“Retail stores have been wanting to do curbside delivery,” said Michael Walker, director of Vancouver’s Downtown Association. “Now that’s an opportunity for them, it will be a great way to sell their products. I think it’s a great step forward.”
Washington is still developing guidelines for Phase 1 safety regulations that will be announced in the coming days, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday.
More than 100 Washington state parks reopened for day use Tuesday, after being closed for weeks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Visitor centers, camping and other overnight accommodations remain closed, according to parks officials.
Battle Ground Lake State Park and Paradise Point State Park are the two Clark County state parks reopening. Most of the other state parks that are now open for recreation are hours away from Clark County. State parks in the Columbia River Gorge remain closed in both Washington and Oregon.
According to Washington State Parks, the reopening “applies to state-managed parks, wildlife areas, recreation land and boat launches.”
But many sites won’t open for several days, because staff will need to unlock gates at more remote parks.
Inslee is encouraging people to recreate responsibly at state parks and follow guidance from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. That advice includes staying home if you feel sick.
The guidance outlines seven different protocols you should follow if you choose to recreate.
Check what’s open before you go. Stay close to home, as opposed to traveling a long distance to visit a park. This cuts down on stops for gas, or restroom breaks, which could help spread the virus.
It’s also advised to hike alone, or with household members at this time. If a trailhead seems crowded — if you have to park a long way from the trail — then be prepared to turn around and save the hike for another time. You should also bring soap, hand sanitizer, water and toilet paper. When hiking, keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
Leave a parking space between vehicles and boat trailers, and only launch one boat at a time. Make sure to wear a mask, and practice good hygiene. And as always, leave no trace. Pack out what you brought in, including masks and gloves.
Not all categories of fishing were opened: A ban remains in place for all coastal recreational fisheries and shellfish harvest; halibut and shellfish fisheries; and clam, mussel and oyster harvest.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife urged anglers to have a backup plan in case their destination was too crowded or still closed.
Inslee will open the state up to Phase 2 on condition that the health care system is ready, testing is available, the state can investigate cases and high-risk populations are protected.
Once those criteria are met, more businesses will be allowed to open, including hair salons, in-store retail, pet grooming and more.
Restaurants and taprooms will also be allowed to open under Phase 2, on the condition that they only allow 50 percent of their capacity and limit groups at tables to five people. There’s also no bar seating under Phase 2.
“We don’t know when the go button will be pushed for these next steps,” Inslee said in a press conference Tuesday evening.
Inslee also announced three advisory groups to help inform the decision-making.
The groups include: a public health and health care system advisory group; a safe work and economic recovery group; and a social support group.