The view from Melakwa several summers ago. I do not recommend this hike at this time.
The view from Melakwa several summers ago. I do not recommend this hike at this time. RS

On Monday Gov. Inslee announced a partial re-opening of some outdoor recreational areas on May 5, including day-use of state parks, day-use of state lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources, day-use of state fish and wildlife areas, hunting areas, and golf courses—assuming that everyone agrees to follow social distancing guidelines, of course.

Some exceptions: no camping, no clamming, no shellfishing, no beach parks, no team sports, and local jurisdictions can apply their own restrictions if they want to. Golfers will have to play "twosomes for a while," Inslee said, with a max team of four if every golfer is a member of the same household.

Inslee advised Washingtonians to "recreate locally as much as possible," to avoid crowds, and for hikers to wear masks, bring hand sanitizer (but pack it out!!!), and to give people six feet of space on trails.

Don Hoch, director of Washington State Parks, said the state won't open "every park," but assumed that "the majority of the parks would be open." He said he'd have a list "by the end of the week" after talking with local communities and tribes.

Some national park areas won't be ready to go by May 5, however. "Call ahead and make sure that the place you want to go is open," said Jon Snyder, Inslee's outdoor advisor. You can also check the DNR's website closer to the date.

Nota bene to hikers: The Washington Trails Association says you should "assume all trailhead facilities will be closed." They suggest hikers "take care of business before you arrive, bring your own toilet paper and brush up on how to poop in the woods. And remember to pack it out—toilet paper doesn't decompose quickly outside."

"This is a data-driven decision," Inslee emphasized, adding that a spike in cases may require the state to close the outdoors again. Seeing hundreds of people on popular trailheads and hanging out on mountaintops forced Inslee to close the parks in the first place—so don't do that.

Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz thanked everyone for their "shared sacrifice" and underlined the importance of following safety guidelines.

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Yet again, the Seattle Times broke some of the news of the announcement ahead of Inslee's presser. You can read their report for more info about which fish you can catch and which you can't catch.

In order to maintain the fiction of their relevance, two weekends ago Republicans in Washington whipped into a froth 2,500 of their followers and risked almost certainly spreading a deadly disease to protest the Stay Home order. They pushed for the Governor to open up the construction industry and fishing holes. The last few announcements from the Inslee's office show he was clearly already working on those policies in the first place, rendering their germy display of dissent all the more politically self-serving.

At the press conference, Inslee also said we'll have to "maintain a significant number of our [Stay Home] efforts" after the order's current May 4 deadline. Health care data related to the percentage of COVID-positive tests and the daily hospitalization rate for COVID-like illnesses will direct his ability to "move the dial" closer to re-opening. But even after Washington re-opens, Inslee said we'll have to maintain social distancing due to people from other states coming in here and messing up all our shit.

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