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Because of ‘continued gathering,’ Seattle orders Cal Anderson and Volunteer Park closed for Easter weekend

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has joined leaders in other cities grappling with COVID-19 in ordering a weekend closure of the city’s largest public green spaces including Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson and Volunteer Parks:

Seattle is joining major cities like Austin and Los Angeles across the country in closing major parks for the weekend. The change is effective Friday, April 10th at 11pm and will parks reopen on Monday, April 12 at 4:30 am. Data shows that social distancing measures are effectively reducing the transmission rate, but any easing of those measures could lead to a resurgence in transmission. Moreover, all city departments are having to adjust to the impacts that COVID-19 has had on employees, their families and the city workforce.

The mayor’s office release says the closure ends Monday, April 12th. We’re assuming they meant the 13th.

“These are the beautiful weather days we crave all winter, but we are living in unprecedented times and the Governor’s order isn’t stay out – it’s stay home,” Durkan said in her announcement. “Seattle’s frontline medical workers, vulnerable residents, and displaced workers need you to stay home.”

UPDATE: A representative for the mayor’s office said an important factor in the closure is a lack of city employees to enforce distancing restrictions in the parks:

The City has sent any staff over 60 or with underlying medical conditions home, and this has reduced our workforce, resulting in less presence in our parks for enforcement. This has influenced the options available to the City as we work to prevent people from congregating in parks.

Cities including Austin and Los Angeles have also announced similar closures, the mayor’s office says.

“If you need to take a walk in your neighborhood, be smart and don’t help create a crowded place,” Durkan said.

The Easter weekend closures come as Seattle enjoys a bout of temperatures in the 60s with a forecast for warmer weather on the way. It also comes amid continued positive signs that the outbreak is slowing in King County — though experts and officials warn that social distancing measures must continue. Through Wednesday night, there have now been 258 deaths reported in the county — 5 in the ZIP codes covering Capitol Hill.

Volunteer Park has been a popular place for walkers and those seeking fresh air

With its densely packed population and many residents living in apartments without yards, the Hill’s parks have been a refuge for many seeking a place to stretch their legs and get outside. But crowds and gatherings for pick-up games have raised complaints and ongoing calls to police. Following a few attempts in March to clear Cal Anderson, SPD has told callers it would not be responding to social distancing complaints.

In addition to those seeking recreation, Cal Anderson and the city’s parks are also places for homeless people and those with few options for finding a space to hangout under COVID-19 restrictions to spend some time. The city has also added a “comfort station” near the park for those experiencing homelessness.

No driving in Volunteer Park

In Volunteer Park, meanwhile, the area has become even more enticing for walkers and riders with the closure of parking and shutdown of the road through the park to traffic.

Nearby areas like Miller playfield, Seven Hills Park, Tashkent, and Broadway Hill Park may feel the squeeze.

Here are the full details on the closure and the list of areas involved:

Seattle Parks and Recreation’s eight destination parks Green Lake, Lincoln, Golden Gardens, Seward Park, Magnuson Park, Gas Works, Alki Beach, and Discovery, as well as Cal Anderson, Carkeek, Woodland Park, Volunteer Park, Kubota Garden, West Seattle Stadium, and the Washington Park Arboretum will close on Friday, April 10th at 11pm and will reopen Monday, April 12 at 4:30 am.. Stan Sayres, Magnuson, Don Armeni, and Atlantic St boat launches are also closed. Trails at Lake Washington Boulevard will remain open, but group gatherings will be prohibited. Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area and Rattlesnake Ledge Trail will remain closed. Next week, the City will is evaluating and implementing a park by park plan to ensure residents can safely utilize larger regional parks when they reopen.

The city is also reminding people of best practices when it comes to responsibly using the spaces:

  • Practice social distancing: respect the minimum 6 feet of separation recommended by the CDC. While on trails, warn other users of their presence and as they pass, and step aside to let others pass.
  • Do not access off limits equipment or areas: last month, Seattle and King County closed all play areas and other high touch areas, such as picnic shelters, tables, and outdoor exercise equipment.
  • Do not congregate in parks: this means no pick-up games, no picnics, BBQs, parties, or bonfires.
  • Maintain six feet of separation for activities: hiking, biking, walking are all great ways to enjoy parks right now, just remember to give a wide berth to your fellow residents.
  • Stay home if they are feeling sick.
  • Practice good hygiene: follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to and during use of parks or trails.

This weekend’s closures will end with the parks reopening for use Monday. What happens after that could be up to the COVID-19 numbers — and how people respond to the call to do more to help slow the outbreak’s spread.

CHS COVID-19

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36 thoughts on “Because of ‘continued gathering,’ Seattle orders Cal Anderson and Volunteer Park closed for Easter weekend” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

    • Is it that the young think they’re immune? Or they just don’t care about who they kill? Someone help me out here. I have a coworker who has lost both parents to this already. There are people in their 20’s in ICU. Those who survive often have terrible lung damage. WTAF!

      • CDC reports today that 90% of hospitalizations are those with AT LEAST 1 pre-existing condition. We are way short of facts, but all the facts tell the story of a disease that is largely asymptomatic in 25-35% of the population and minor for most healthy folks. It’s just not true that it’s killing the young and healthy. It’s killing the sick and the weak. As all diseases do. However, we as a society seem gripped by irrational fear and unwilling to discuss rationally the few facts we have. Look at Sweden and Denmark. Not panicking. Not dying.

      • @rac
        “It’s just not true that it’s killing the young and healthy. It’s killing the sick and the weak.”

        You are wrong. This article (and others) shows that young, healthy people ARE dying – https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/08/young-people-coronavirus-deaths/

        Now, if you want to argue that they aren’t dying at the same high percentage as older folks or those with underlying health conditions, fine. But to be so blase about the lethality of the virus to all age groups seems either naive or ill-informed.

        You don’t have to be panicked to understand the seriousness of the issue at hand and just stay home. The argument that, “I’m young, it won’t do anything to me,” is beside the point as it’s not all about the young; it’s about everyone. People are being asked to sacrifice now, for the greater good later.

        People go overseas to fight, becoming injured or just plain dying to protect freedoms. We’re just asked to hang out on the couch and limit our outdoor time to walks around the block. How is this so hard for us to do? God forbid there ever was a real war, with rationing and limitations on movement, half our population would die from not being able to “do what I want to do.”

      • The Danish and Swedish have a sense of personal responsibility that does not exist in the US. They also have world class healthcare systems that also does not exist in the US.

        We would be an order of magnitude worse if we attempted herd immunity as a response in the US.

  1. I plan on going to the park as usual, unless the crowds do not permit me my 6 foot range. I hope that everyone who is capable of behaving responsibly shows up at their favorite park and enjoys it. I am prepared to deal with cops who know better than I what is good for the community, and be cited, but I will be there I assure you. As I live close by Volunteer Park I will go out of my way to check it out.

    Please share this act with others. One can be as safe in a park as in their home. On the other hand, I am feeling less and less safe in my city with the steadfast ignoring of common sense and laws in place on so many issues, while having the time to throw this one at us.

    Protest paternalism. Hit the parks! Tweet it out.

    • Well said. Our city and state “leaders” are trying symbolic moves that don’t actually address real problems. They are all way over their heads. At some point we will need to relieve them of their authority. As they turn a blind eye to the 0.1% shoplifting, vandalising and otherwise destroying our city, they focus instead on curtail the liberties of the responsible folks who pay to put food on their table. See you at the park this weekend!

    • Speaking Truth and rac – COVIDIOTS ladies and gentlemen!

      You know what else you help pay for? Jail cells. Hopefully you’ll “deal with” (ignore) police orders and get thrown in there; for a few hours at least.

    • I like how people keep on bringing up their their so called “liberty” or “freedom”, right in the face of it affecting the lives of others. That’s not how liberty and freedom work; you don’t get to do whatever you want when it impacts others.

      • So I have to stay locked up in my house because you didn’t take care of yourself and now have health issues? If you are worried, stay home. Diseases kill the sick and the weak. That’s their job. And humans survive by building herd immunity. It’s worked for a very long time.

        But now we’re going down the lowest common denominator path – we all have to act like the weakest person in society. Which means 99% of us are suffering for the 1%. That’s tyranny of the minority. I know a lot of people, myself included, who believe we’ve probably already had COVID back in Feb/early March. If the state wants to lock me up, the burden of proof should be on the state to prove I’m a risk. That’s due process.

        So yes, freedom is not being deprived of one’s liberty by the minority and without due process.

      • So I have to stay locked up in my house because you didn’t take care of yourself and now have health issues? If you are worried, stay home. Diseases kill the sick and the weak. That’s their job. And humans survive by building herd immunity. It’s worked for a very long time.

        But now we’re going down the lowest common denominator path – we all have to act like the weakest person in society. Which means 99% of us are suffering for the 1%. That’s tyranny of the minority. I know a lot of people, myself included, who believe we’ve probably already had COVID back in Feb/early March. If the state wants to lock me up, the burden of proof should be on the state to prove I’m a risk. That’s due process.

        So yes, freedom is not being deprived of one’s liberty by the minority and without due process.

        Ayn Rand, is that you? I guess Republicans getting behind a $2.5 trillion socialist bailout of US citizens was enough to cause you to raise from the dead. You’ll love how modern America has turned out1

    • In my opinion, closing parks to all is an over-reaction. I walk through Volunteer Park regularly and have not seen the “crowding” that city officials are talking about. Instead, I see appropriate social distancing.

      However, I believe in the rule of law, and so will respect the closure this weekend. But I will certainly be back at Volunteer Park as soon as the closure is lifted.

  2. rac here is emblematic of the sort of shit human being that infests our city now.

    Mildly-inconvenienced and going off like Patrick Henry over it. You got a Karen mind, boy.

    • If they want to get angry, then it would be better directed at the government federal officials for not acting on what has to be the most obvious slow moving and moderately easy to mitigate disaster in history.

    • I only wish that were true. If only we were infested with folks who dare to dissent against the dogmatic grouplink endemic to our city today. I used to be liberal… But Seattle liberals now are no different than the Trump MAGA folks. Different dogma, but same unwillingness to question the creed, to actually understand how the world works, to accept that you have to put a price on human life (and no, it’s not infinite), and to contemplate that maybe business isn’t evil (you all seem to love the things business provides you, like cheap goods and a place to live and, oh yeah, a job so you have money).

      I personally find the lack of dissent very concerning. No dissent means people aren’t thinking. Aren’t challenging their beliefs. And that’s a problem. A big problem.

  3. The sheep are flocking about. Believing that the public is served by the pronouncements of our betters. While not a golfer, the fools in charge unlike those in Oregon and Idaho, have closed golf courses, where players are apart by design. Builders and contractors, likewise. The cases have and are dropping here. We will have to coexist with the virus and open things up with it among us. Our city keeps the parks open for Hepatitis transmission and illegal camping. But we can’t walk responsibly in the park.

    If you like this rule, just stay home. See the rest of you at the park and in the next election when we can reconsider who we put in charge.

  4. It’s a total bummer. But with this weather, these parks would just be too crowded to keep safe distances, even if everyone who went there tried their best.

  5. Jessica L’s tweet from her obviously extremely expensive apartment with its own private rooftop and expansive skyline view is ridiculous. There are so many people on Capitol Hill who don’t live with the luxury of having a yard or roof, and the park is the only escape to get outside. Go back inside and check your privilege at the door Jessica.

  6. rac, please go to the park and enjoy yourself, then visit your parents and/or your grandparents and give them all a big hug.
    Spending time with you is probably just what they need.

  7. Went to park this morning. Saw a few there in the distance. A mall cop yelling at people through the car speakers. Another orange vested parks employee who tried to engage that I politely sent on his way. Endangered zero today, nor yesterday when open, nor in the future.

    @CapHillGreg – you are so wrong and inflammatory with your smugness. Likely reflects a sub-normal IQ who has no idea what constitutes danger. (Hint – it is not a walk in the park. It is of rising fascism and ignorance).

  8. Just came from Volunteer Park. Full of people enjoying themselves at a typical level for a cool weekend day. Walking, playing with their kids, dogs, enjoying the view of the Needle from the front of the museum, lying on the grass reading a book. All distant from those not in their circle.

    People quietly telling the mayor that they are grown ups who can think for themselves. The horror!

  9. Whoah, overreaction much? The parks will be closed for just two days. They aren’t closed forever, they aren’t even closed for a week. Do you have so little self control and compassion for your neighbors that you can’t spend two days at home? This isn’t the government trying to quash your rights, its an attempt to protect and reduce the risk of transmission in the community. Take it easy. Have a glass (or two) of wine. Watch a movie. Call a friend. But stop throwing a tantrum over a minor restriction that will soon pass.

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