Welp. You can now file "All The Good Parks" under "Things You Can't Have During the COVID-19 Pandemic."
Mayor Jenny Durkan announced on KUOW today that she will be closing 15 major parks over the weekend. It's because the weather finally turned nice and Durkan suspects you and your germ group will want to host a game of ultimate or a BBQ or something else socially un-distant.
Parks will close Friday, April 10 at 11 p.m and will reopen on Monday, April 13 at 4:30 a.m.
"The Governor’s order isn’t stay out—it's stay home," Durkan chided in a press release.
The parks have seen an influx of usage in the weeks since shelter-in-place was instated. They're critical for people who need to get outside to exercise or just breathe fresh air.
Additionally, according to the mayor's office, there are 199 hygiene facilities (that means toilets, sinks, and showers) in 114 parks and recreation locations across the city. Those are integral for Seattle's unhoused population who has even more limited access to bathrooms now that everything is shut down, even though the city is trying. Erica Barnett has reported more on that drama here.
Councilmember Andrew Lewis, who chairs the Seattle City Council's Select Committee on Homelessness Strategies & Investment, tweeted out a map of public hygiene facilities on Thursday. Spot how many of these are in Seattle parks.
I mentioned during Committee that on my website is now a map of all city restrooms/sinks/showers for the public to use. You can find that here: https://t.co/kWUIMeJi60 pic.twitter.com/TvKxmUdwsF
— Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis (@CMAndrewJLewis) April 8, 2020
According to Lewis, he has "assurances from the mayor’s office that the bathrooms are going to stay open" in those parks. But, he added, "still working on how that’s going to work if the park is closed." He "totally supports" the measure to clamp down on social distancing and stopping all those "millennial sports leagues."
He said that an individual will be allowed to use a restroom in any of the closed parks. It's not clear how that will happen. Lewis said that it will hinge on getting out the message that bathrooms are still open.
For now, the parks you for sure can't have any germ group kickball or germ group pickleball tournaments in (but can maybe wash your hands or drop a deuce if you're alone) are:
If a park has a gate, it will be locked. If not, there will probably be some Parks and Recreation employees or Seattle Police Department officers strolling around telling you to scram. This comes after the city shut down the parking lots of eight parks and after local groups called for the expansion of recreation and green space in the city.
But you can still kick it—responsibly and socially distantly—in 479 neighborhood parks. Beware, though, "while our neighborhood parks will remain open," the mayor's office wrote in a statement, "the city will consider closing them or making temporary closures longer-term if visitors can’t follow safety guidelines."
This is bad news for anyone who likes parks or going for walks or breathing non-inside air. Or the author of this Atlantic piece called "Keep the Parks Open" which argues that public green spaces are good for the immune system and mental health.
In bittersweet news, it will be in the 60s and glorious all weekend. Meet you all six-feet apart at the Maple Leaf Reservoir Park?