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On Capitol Hill, the cure for COVID-19 confinement is a spring walk in the park

Anybody cluck clucking or tut tutting the sight of Capitol Hill parks busy with walkers, bike riders, skaters, bladers, and picnic makers should save their breath.

In these COVID-19-y days, you might need it.

With the arrival of meteorological spring and singles, couples, throuples, and families penned together to ride this whole thing out, Volunteer Park was a busy place this week even with social distancing the rule during Seattle’s COVID-19 response.

UPDATE: Officials are saying to stay off the playgrounds but, yes, you can enjoy the parks:

To follow COVID-19 social distancing guidelines established by Public Health—Seattle & King County and the Washington Department of Health, King County Parks and Seattle Parks and Recreations are closing sports courts, playground equipment, and other active recreation areas where it could be difficult to maintain recommended social distancing guidelines. Ballfields and playfields are open for walking and other non-team activities. The closure includes picnic shelters, basketball and tennis courts, ballfields, and other active recreation locations. Parks, natural lands, regional trails, backcountry trails, and beaches where social distancing can be maintained remain open.

Unlike the situation with the still crowded clubs and bars that were finally emptied with the state’s business restrictions, officials in even the most locked-down areas are not telling people they cannot go outside.

In California where citizens are in “shelter in place mode,” officials are allowing people “to engage in outdoor activity and recreation, provided that the individuals comply with social distancing requirements, including, without limitation, walking, hiking, running, cycling; use of scooters, roller skates, skateboards, or other personal mobility devices; or travel in a vehicle with household members to a location where it is possible to walk, hike, run or ride a bike, or operate personal mobility devices, while maintaining social distancing practices.”

In New York, they are telling people to get some air. “”It’s very important for people to get outside,” a NYC parks official said. “Parks are so beneficial because it can help reduce that stress.”

Social distancing recommendations still apply. Sunshine may or may not kill or weaken the virus. Be careful what you touch. Cover your coughs and sneezes, don’t spit. Stay home if you are feeling the least bit unwell. Walk with your friends but avoid hugs and contact. Kids should probably avoid playground equipment and, personally, CHS wouldn’t choose to lay down on plastic sports turf like the sports field in Cal Anderson without a very thick blanket — with or without an outbreak. Families and social units can still gather close. Feel free to pet the good dogs. Use your judgment — if the park you are headed to is too full, pick another way to try to spend your time outside.

We can go outside and take a walk or a ride across Capitol Hill and through its parks. With so many other sacrifices, postponements, cancellations, and losses, there are still a few gifts left to enjoy.

UPDATE: King County Executive Dow Constantine agress — for now. “We want to keep as many outlets for healthy activity and stress relief available,” Constantine said Saturday. “By all means, go for a hike. Take the family for a stroll. Ride your bike. Kick a soccer ball around with your kids.”

“But use good sense,” he added. “Avoid gatherings and team sports. Don’t crowd each other.”


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13 thoughts on “On Capitol Hill, the cure for COVID-19 confinement is a spring walk in the park

    • No kidding, healthy 20, 30 and 40 year olds have gotten very sick too. And recovering doesn’t mean you’re back to normal either, you can still have permeant lung damage.

    • I think, and public health experts seem to agree, that a walk in the park (with appropriate social distancing) is very safe. To demand that everyone stay at home, all the time, is an over-reaction.

      • The only counties that have brought the virus under control so far are China due to strict policies, and Korea with its massive testing to isolate out those infected. Places that are doing neither, like Italy and Washington continue to have rates go up it looks like.

  1. We are in a new normal. While individuals and families can bike, walk, or run, we cannot allow gatherings at Seattle’s best locations including Alki, Golden Gardens, Seward, Volunteer Park or Magnuson. Every single resident should take social distancing guidelines to heart – it could save someone’s life,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan.

  2. Should be updated again with today’s article about police telling everyone to get the hell out of the park, you idiots. They mean you can safely go for a walk PAST people, not go outside WITH people.

    • Neither a bandana – viruses are tiny… they’ll go right through or around that or gloves – you still need to keep your gloved hands away from your face and depending on the type of gloves, same thing applies as does to bandanas, will likely keep you any safer than going without them – just *stay far enough away from other people*…. if you find it impossible to do that, the place you are at is already too crowded, go elsewhere.

      If the bulk of people cannot figure this out, we will be put under a shelter in place order…

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