Inslee to loosen restrictions on outdoor recreation: “Data, not dates, determine how we act”

Boat ramps, trailheads and golf courses can reopen with social-distancing measures in place.

Nolte State Park is a 117-acre Washington state park located 6 miles northeast of Enumclaw at the western edge of the Cascade Mountains. Photo courtesy Washington State Parks

Nolte State Park is a 117-acre Washington state park located 6 miles northeast of Enumclaw at the western edge of the Cascade Mountains. Photo courtesy Washington State Parks

Starting next week, Washingtonians will be able to hike, fish, hunt and golf, Gov. Jay Inslee announced April 27.

With social-distancing measures in place, boat ramps, trailheads and golf courses and other public lands can open May 5, in addition to seasonal hunting and fishing seasons. The decision gives residents outdoor recreation opportunities that have been unavailable since Inslee enacted his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order in March.

Residents are asked not to boat, hike, fish, hunt or golf with anyone they don’t live with and to continue practicing social distancing. If the state sees an uptick in coronavirus cases, restrictions and closures could be reinstated, Inslee said.

“This is not a return to normal today,” Inslee said. “The virus is too rampant to allow that.”

Inslee’s order ends May 4, but social-distancing measures will “certainly extend beyond that date,” he said.

“Data, not dates, determine how we act,” he said. “We have a plan for reopening our state, but it depends on how the data comes in.”

While state parks are opening their gates for hiking, camping is still prohibited. Additionally, some state-owned lands might not open right away. A list of parks remaining closed will be available at the end of the week, parks officials said.

If you plan on visiting one, check www.parks.wa.gov before you go.

As of Monday, King County health officials had logged 5,990 confirmed infections, with 416 deaths. Statewide, as of Sunday, there had been 13,521 cases and 749 deaths.

Inslee’s announcement comes three days after the governor laid out a plan to resume some construction that was under way when he first issued his stay-home order.

To continue easing social-distancing measures, statistics like infection rates and hospitalizations must continue to fall, the governor said, and the state needs to see increased testing capacity and robust contact-tracing.

Washington is making progress on forming a “small army” of 1,500 contact tracers by May 11, Inslee said.

“But the models still give us great pause and not enough confidence to throw open the gates,” he said.

Some conservative state lawmakers have criticized Inslee’s order as unconstitutional.

State law gives the governor wide authority under declared emergencies, which includes prohibiting people from “gathering on the public streets, parks, or other open areas of this state, either public or private” and any “activities as he or she reasonably believes should be prohibited to help preserve and maintain life, health, property or the public peace.”

State Sen. Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls, contends Inslee’s emergency powers do not extend to barring a person from getting into a boat and going fishing, alone or not.

“These are very uncharted waters, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I’m very happy that he’s moving in the right direction. But sorry, governor, you never did have the authority to tell us we could or could not go fishing.”

At a rally in Olympia, Sutherland declared May 1 to be the day when fishing should return. That was an arbitrary date, he said Monday, adding that he was not planning any events to protest whatever timeline the governor might be announcing.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Bret Chiafalo. File photo
Supreme Court says state can punish WA faithless electors

Justices: Presidential electors, including Everett man, must keep pledge to back popular vote winner

Gov. Jay Inslee issued new guidance allowing the resumption of self-service buffets, salad bars, salsa bars, drink stations and other types of communal food sources in Phase 2. File photo
Buffets and salad bars back on the menu in King County

Gov. Jay Inslee has revised rules to allow self-serve food areas in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening.

Bellevue City Hall. Photo courtesy city of Bellevue
Open seat on East Bellevue Community Council

Applications are due by Friday, July 24

Brian Tilley (left) and Katie Dearman work the wash station Friday at Kate’s Greek American Deli in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Governor’s no-mask, no-service order begins across Washington

“Just do not ring up the sale,” Gov. Jay Inslee said about customers who do not don the proper masks.

King County homeless count: 11,751 people, up 5 percent from 2019

One night a year, volunteers spread out across Seattle and King County… Continue reading

Free masks at the Bellevue Salvation Army. Courtesy photo
Free mask pickup for Bellevue residents

New dates and times for mask distribution this week

Nurse Sylvia Keller, pictured with Gov. Jay Inslee, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in Yakima County. Courtesy photo
Governor doubles down on mask rules

Inslee: Starting July 7, businesses do not serve those who do not wear a mask

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Construction begins for Downtown Park entrance

The previously delayed entryway project is expected to be finished early 2021

Most Read