Washington Moves Toward Reopening Fishing, Hunting, Golfing, State Parks Beginning May 5

Palouse Falls State Park is home to Washington's official state waterfall -- and large crowds in the spring runoff season.
Palouse Falls in southeastern Washington is the state’s official waterfall, and a popular hiking and picture-taking destination. CREDIT: Tom Banse/N3

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BY RACHEL LA CORTE /AP 

Fishing, hunting and golfing can resume on May 5 in Washington, at which time people can also return to state parks and other state lands for day trips, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday.

However, Inslee said that if the state sees an uptick in infections of the coronavirus or if people don’t continue to take safety measures while recreating, the activities could once again be restricted. Public gatherings and events, team sports and camping are all still prohibited under the current stay-at-home order that has been in place since March 23.

“This is not a return to normal today, the virus is too rampant to allow that,” Inslee said. “This is only a beginning phase of relaxing our outdoor recreation.”

More than 13,500 people in Washington state have tested positive for the virus and at least 749 have died. The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most patients, and the vast majority recover. But it is highly contagious and can be spread by those who appear healthy and can cause severe illness and death in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

Demonstrators in Spokane's Franklin Park April 22 said they wanted to fish, saying it's one of the most socially distant and isolating activities possible. CREDIT: Nick Deshais/N3

Demonstrators in Spokane’s Franklin Park April 22 said they wanted to fish, saying it’s one of the most socially distant and isolating activities possible. CREDIT: Nick Deshais/N3

Inslee has expressed caution about fully reopening the state too quickly and has said that the state will not be able to lift many of the stay-at-home restrictions implemented to fight the coronavirus by May 4 — the date through which the current directive is currently in place. But he has said that the removal of certain restrictions would be phased in based on what statewide health data was showing.

The announcement on the partial reopening of outdoor recreation comes just a few days after Inslee announced a plan that allows the resumption of existing construction projects, as long as strict coronavirus social distancing protocols are in place.

In the case of outdoor recreation, Inslee said that those who are exhibiting signs of illness must stay home, and that people must limit their partners in these activities to those who live within their household. He also said that people must recreate locally and not make overnight trips to other areas. Monday’s announcement does not prevent local governments or national agencies from closing parks, lands or trails in their jurisdictions based on public health needs in those areas, Inslee said.

Inslee said that the Golf Alliance of Washington has established several limits, including spacing out of tee times, limits on the number of people golfing together, and take-away food and beverage service only.

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