Recreation in a pandemic: Snohomish County says ‘stay close to home’

The Snohomish County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department has reinforced guidelines to help residents understand how to “recreate responsibly” during the pandemic. The new tag line: “If you take a car, the park is too far!”

A sunny day in Snohomish County reveals busy beaches, crowded trails and people parking illegally near parks, the department says. Many people are still traveling to parks, creating crowds and making it difficult to maintain social distancing in the midst of a global pandemic.

“By following social distancing guidance, we will be better able to protect our community’s health. COVID-19 can infect you anywhere you gather closely with others, including in our parks,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “Social distancing seems to be having the intended effect, and we are not seeing a big spike in infection rates right now. If you take a car, the park is too far. If you take a walk, keep your distance from others.”

Along with this new guidance, the department is also reiterating the current closures: Snohomish County park gates, playgrounds, and bathrooms are closed until at least May 4, 2020. All scheduled parks events/gatherings are canceled or postponed through at least May 20, 2020. These actions are to discourage travel, stop gatherings, and slow the spread of the virus under Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, which has been extended to May 4.

While there are still many benefits to going outside during this time, follow these recommendations to stay safe:

  • Engage in outdoor activities only with people in your immediate household (not extended families).
  • Engage in outdoor activities close by your home, instead of traveling to do them (“If you take a car, the park is too far!”).
  • If you encounter others, maintain a minimum of 6-feet social distance.
  • Gatherings of any size are not allowed outdoors, just as they are not allowed indoors. This includes getting a group together to go on a hike.
  • Do not play on any play equipment.
  • Do not park in front of park gates or roads. Emergency services need access to these at all times.

Snohomish County has widespread parks and open spaces in both urban and rural settings. In these difficult times, it is critical the community plays their part in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Parks staff members say they are witnessing cars parked in front of gates, crowded street parking, and too many users, making social distancing difficult. In particular, there has been unsafe and/or illegal parking near Meadowdale Beach, Picnic Point, Lord Hill, Paradise Valley, Wenberg County Park, Heybrook Ridge Park, as well as many of the Centennial Trail trailhead parking areas.


35 Replies to “Recreation in a pandemic: Snohomish County says ‘stay close to home’”

  1. OK, this has gone too far. The Snohomish County Parks, Rec and Tourism Department has closed parking lots along the Centennial Trail. The people who were elected to WORK FOR US are continually tightening the screws.

    So now it’s OK to go into a pot shop but these morons have now decided that they can arbitrarily prevent us from parking near a convenient place on the trail in order to walk/skate/bike in the outdoors?

    We have clearly been too tolerant of this micromanagement. It’s time for the civil disobedience to GET REAL.

    P.S. In the next election, you people are FIRED.


  2. “P.S. In the next election, you people are FIRED.”

    Not by me. No leadership is perfect, governing is far, far too complex for solutions that will please everyone, and worse in times like these. We need to support them.

    Pot shops may or may not be essential; some would say they are for medical reasons. Perhaps, perhaps not, but from videos, parking lots are seeing a lot of people who are not distancing properly. I’m glad that our elected officials are taking these steps – in the UK people are ignoring stay-at-home, and this spreads the virus.

    Morons? Tightening the screws? You prefer free spreading of the virus? My best friend works in the ER. I believe he’s feel that these “morons” are doing the right thing, and that “tightening the screws” is the only way to slow this thing down. He’s seeing enough suffering and death without “civil disobedience” making it worse. In a complex and dangerous situation, yes, these people ARE working for us. Help them help us. We’re in this together. Or should be.

    Civil disobedience = infection. But feel free to expose yourself and infect others. I guess.


  3. The intent behind this is great, but it’s also very ableist. I’m a runner and could easily run to/through multiple parks on one 10-mile run, while someone with more limited mobility might *need* to be driven to a nearby park in order to be in that space. Take, for example, Sierra Park in Edmonds, which has trails for the blind. If a blind person can’t access that park by arriving on foot, do the not get access at all? What about people with walkers or wheelchairs? Do those with mobility issues not get to use parks? If the issue is with crowding at certain popular parks, perhaps the messaging needs to be updated to address that issue while not shaming those who might be unable to be in nature without driving a short distance to an accessible space.


  4. to I’m disabled myself, and a former runner – so I know what you mean. You raise a good point. But in the face of many thousands of deaths nationwide, with no sign of it letting up or even flattening, we need to be prepared to make some sacrifices, and maybe for a month or two, not being able to access the park is a small price to pay for life. It’s about that simple.

    As a friend said, “Our fathers and grandfathers went to war. All we are asked to do is sit on the sofa.”

    My friend risks his life daily in the ER. We need to do everything we can to support him by not sending more infected people to him. A limited period of inaction is a very small price to pay.


  5. ” with no sign of it letting up or even flattening, we need to be prepared to make some sacrifices”

    It is letting up and flattening, regionally. Washington is doing well.

    So banning access to that park serves no purpose except mindless increase of regulations.


    1. As has been explained over and over, relaxing too soon simply triggers a resurgence. The US topped 8,000 deaths today. Washington State has 7,984 cases reported as of noon yesterday; that’s up 393 cases from the day before, with 338 deaths. Washington may be doing well on the national scale, but 338 deaths is not “doing well” on any but a statistical comparison.

      The virus is almost certainly killing people who are not included in the nation’s growing death toll, according to public-health experts.

      You are right that the curve seems to be flattening, according to the latest analysis from the UW – I was wrong at that. Thank you for the correction.

      According to Dr. Fauci, up to half the infected could be asymptomatic and thus able to infect others. Relaxing restrictions at this point allows these persons to spread the infection, possibly at a very high rate.
      Every indication is that relaxing restrictions too soon will simply spark another another heavy wave of infections – that is how pandemics function. But maintaining strict caution will flatten the curve of the next wave and decrease deaths in this one. Giving up vigilance now, too soon, will certainly result in a spike. To do so is unconscionable and mindless.

      Go tell the people in the ER that we should open access to the parks. See what they say. Keeping things closed is a small sacrifice when it saves lives.


    2. How about this for a slogan
      ‘If you say I can’t drive my car, YOU (the gov’t) has gone too far…


  6. So the parks are now only for those who are able to walk to them ? Seems discriminatory against seniors and disabled. The Edmonds City Park I have frequented in my car (because of back issues) these last 3 weeks have had maybe two cars or four at most. Of those perhaps four cars at least two of us are elderly or disabled. People keep their distance they wave from afar they sit alone at a picnic table or they eat in their cars. No one gathers.

    The half hour or hour spent in the park is perhaps one bright spot for the shut in elderly or disabled who cannot walk to the park.

    so I guess the new normal is only those who are young, in shape and able to walk as well as those with enough resources to afford a house within walking distance of City park are allowed to go there and the elderly and disabled are discriminated against.

    Yes visiting a park or not visiting a park may seem a trivial issue given the weighty issues we are confronted with. Let’s just give adults some credit for self-monitoring.


    1. >Yes visiting a park or not visiting a park may seem a trivial issue given the weighty issues we are confronted with.
      >Let’s just give adults some credit for self-monitoring.

      That’s what bugs me the most. They’re treating us all like idiots.

      I can walk or bike to a lot of places around where I live. Others need parking access.


    2. I too am not advocating opening up access in fact I applaud the parks for closing down their playground equipment which has discouraged people from gathering.

      And yes, Nathaniel, I will indeed ask the ER nurse who was sobbing in her car at the park where she said she found a bit of peaceful respite from the chaos.


  7. >As has been explained over and over, relaxing too soon simply triggers a resurgence.
    >Go tell the people in the ER that we should open access to the parks.

    This thread is not about relaxing access. What I am saying is, the current level is working, so stop just ratcheting controls tighter.

    Like the photo of the windsurfer guy being arrested over the weekend. He was in open water, alone, interacting with no one. So the police went and exposed themselves to him, then presumably took him to jail and exposed him to a cell full of derelicts. That is idiocy.

    I do think we need to think hard and carefully about what controls we will relax and when. We are absolutely killing the economy and crime is about to explode. And non-criminals are getting fed up with the backwards notion of putting healthy people under house arrest.

    This has all been panic and government taking all the control it can get. We are heading in a bad direction.


    1. I had to go look up the story involving the arrest of a surfer (I’ve been keeping my distance from network news and hadn’t heard). The story I found was a SUP surfer at Malibu pier who failed to obey orders from a lifeguard, which prompted a California Lifeguard boat and a Police boat to respond.

      I suspect if he had obeyed the lifeguard’s whistle and call to return to shore, they would have simply told him to find another way to exercise. His problem was that he disregarded an order from a uniformed official.

      Whether closing Malibu pier or our local parks is logical, that’s a separate matter.


  8. If you drive to a park that has lots of room in order to avoid overcrowding one in your neighborhood that seems like common sense. Cute slogan but illogical. Getting out is important to mental and physical health. The objective is distancing humans not reducing miles driven — the distancing is too important to be obscured.


  9. I really can’t believe that you keep publishing these “unkind” types of comments. Don Baldwin made a comment that was what he felt is his POV. Why would you even print the next comment saying Don’s comment is “stupid, paranoid, and irresponsible”? I thought MEN was going to keep the “unkind” comments edited? Really tired of reading these kinds of personal attacks.


    1. HI Grace — Clint did not refer to any one particular comment so I let it stand as I believe it was his attempt at humor.


  10. Gee, I wonder why anyone might blame Turnip for the anemic response.

    JAN 30
    “We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five. And those people are all recuperating successfully. But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for it. So that I can assure you.”

    FEB 24
    “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock market starting to look very good to me”

    FEB 25
    “You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are … getting better. They’re all getting better. … As far as what we’re doing with the new virus, I think that we’re doing a great job.”


  11. Edmonds loves to celebrate all things related to diversity except diversity of opinions. We just verbally attack those with different opinions until we drive them away. I see this happen over and over again on My Edmonds News. I think your comment is out of line.


    1. That is what I was saying. I saw no humor in the put down of others comments. For some reasons the editor thinks it was an attempt at humor, I disagree. How can calling other comments “stupid, paranoid, and irresponsible” be an attempt at humor? It IS a verbal attack and not humor! Amazing how the “rules” are bent for some but not for others. My subscription just ended.


      1. I am happy to delete this comment if others find it offensive, and I know Clint won’t mind if I do.


  12. Whatabout Secretary Pelosi does not exonerate this administration.

    Every president for the past 50 years, at a minimum, would have nationalized the response.

    This will go down as an historic failure of the executive branch of the federal government.


    1. Again your right. Congress, there is the real leadership. I love how Pelosi smiles walking down the street of S.F.

      Everyone stay home, stay safe.


  13. Allen, another deflection? Pelosi is not in charge of the Federal Government.

    Every PRESIDENT for the past 50 years, at a minimum, would have nationalized the response.

    This will go down as an historic failure of the executive branch of the federal government.


  14. Hey, why we are at it..why don’t we also blame Bush?? Everyone did that during the Obama years…


    1. Don, I said EVERY President in the last 50 years would have nationalized the response – Reagan and the Bush’s most definitely would have.

      Trump is not a republican although most of his life he supported many democrats and their issues, he saw a crack in the republican door and stuck his foot in it. Those who voted for him ignored his history all for the sake of winning and judges.

      Now, we all pay the price.


  15. This blame game and the divisiveness it breeds is a big part of our society’s problems.

    Republicans screw up. Democrats screw up.

    What we need is a serious discussion of what measures affecting personal freedom we the people will allow in situations like this and when we will tell the government to stuff it.


    1. Of course you are right. I apologize for “trolling”. If a huge meteor hit the earth wiping out most life, each side would blame or fault the other for lack of leadership.


    2. So I am deleting two comments that followed this. One said “with Matt Richardson gone the libs are Hungary for red meat.” The other one — which I did not approve — was responding to that in kind, pointing out the name calling related to “libs.” Folks, you can’t have it both ways. If you want me to NOT delete comments, let’s try to be kind to each other, OK?


      1. I don’t understand why my “whole” comment was deleted. You could have done what you do for many others, and just deleted the “red meat” portion. Most of my comment was saying Don Baldwin’s comment was worthy, and I agreed with his fair and accurate post. Bias is everywhere, even here.


        1. You can disagree with me all you want — it’s your right. Just like I have the right to decide how to moderate this site. I have to make the call every day with every single comment — many days there are dozens of them.


  16. Man, I’m glad you all have this big issue sorted out. The main thing is people really are taking the government’s study of “the facts” seriously and doing the recommend social distancing and gloves and masks protocols; and we appear to beating the worst outcomes of this pandemic.

    My hat’s off to Gov. Inslee, Gov. Cuomo of N.Y. and the House and Senate for passing measures that really should help “we the people” with all the ramifications of this thing. Also to all the great folks in our medical, health, police, military and food distributing occupations that are selflessly endangering themselves by taking care of “we the people.”


    1. After reading the cited article, I’d have to say it is more about who’s done the less bad job of handling the situation than who has done a good job or a “perfect job” (you know, as in perfect phone call). I just read elsewhere in MEN today that Snohomish Co. reported the 1st known case of the virus in the whole country on Jan. 21st. I’d say that says our Gov. and other local officials have done a pretty good job here and deserve our thanks. They definitely have my thanks, and gratitude for not being political toadies to please the President. Just be glad you don’t live in Florida where things are getting really ugly really fast.


  17. I think Teresa deleted one of my comments on this subject and that doesn’t bother me a bit. I don’t know why she deleted it and don’t care. More power to her. She doesn’t owe me any explanations. It’s her publication and her right to print or not print whatever she wants. If I thought she was unfair or biased one way or another I wouldn’t bother to read MEN, comment ever, or support it financially. Many, perhaps even most, of the people commenting here (and elsewhere) have no concept of what the terms Conservative and Liberal even mean. The terms have simply become labels to categorize and scapegoat people one happens to disagree with on one issue or another; or even all issues, in some cases, which is really ridiculous.


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