Mayor Durkan Urges Residents to Continue to Stay Home and Announces Guidelines to Allow Continued Use of Parks, Farmers Markets and Car-Free Neighborhood Greenways

City will close two neighborhood greenways to through traffic so people can bike and walk

 Residents must #KeepItMoving while using Seattle Parks, Greenways and Farmers Markets

SEATTLE (April 16, 2020) – The City announced additional steps taken and guidelines for safe use of City parks, greenways and local farmers markets. The City will allow major parks to remain open throughout the weekend but will be requiring residents to keep moving and not play sports, picnic or barbecue, with additional new guidelines at Green Lake and Seward Park. The City will also open two neighborhood greenways in West Seattle and the Central District to allow safe exercise opportunities free of cars so residents can bike or walk this weekend. Parking lots at our larger parks will remain closed.

“The Governor’s order is Stay Home – not stay out. The social distancing necessary to keep us healthy will mean a new normal for Seattle’s parks, farmers markets, and public amenities. Stay home, but if you need to exercise or go to get groceries at the farmers market, please no crowds, no gatherings, and keep it moving,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “We know that this virus isn’t leaving our community for a long time, but I am hopeful that Seattle can adapt. I’m asking every Seattle resident: think of the nurses and health care workers on the front lines before you leave the house.”

Keep it Moving Guidance:

  • Stay Home. If you need to leave the house, visit your neighborhood park.
  • Keep it Moving. Keep walking, running, rolling or biking. That means no picnics, no BBQs, no sports, no gatherings at our parks.
  • Visit at Off Peak. Visit parks, greenways and farmers markets at off peak hours.
  • Crowded Spaces will mean Closed Spaces. If you see a crowd, go somewhere else.

Seattle Parks staff will be monitoring in real time and is prepared to close parks if there are too many gatherings or too many people.

“We are asking community members to follow the Governor’s orders to Stay Home, Stay Healthy,” said Chief Best.  “If you must go outside, please keep it moving and avoid gatherings.  The more we stay inside, the more lives we save.” 

While individuals may continue to visit their neighborhood parks, Seattle Parks and Recreation has implemented the following steps ahead of the weekend at the largest parks:

  • Deploying 60 new Social Distancing Ambassadors. Parks Ambassadors began last weekend and will be at all major parks to remind people to social distance and not gather. These ambassadors will take hourly data on usage and parks will be closed if usage is too high. 
  • Installation of hundreds of new signs reminding the public of Social Distancing and Keep It Moving expectations You can view signs here and here.
  • Closure of Sports Fields. All basketball courts, athletic fields, and tennis courts will continued to be closed for use.
  • New Reporting for Lack of Social Distancing: The public can report any lack of social distancing to Seattle Parks and Recreation through social media, calling (206) 684-4075, or emailing pks_info@seattle.gov.

“We owe it to our heroes on the frontlines to take extra precaution when we walk out the door. Keep moving and enjoy the sunshine safely. As long as we continue practicing safe social distancing and appropriate COV-etiquette – wearing a mask, washing hands, staying 6+ feet apart – we will ALL be able to keep this disease at bay,” said Councilmember Debora Juarez, District 5.

In addition, the following four parks will have significant changes to operation to keep people moving and distant.

Green Lake

  • Loop trail open to pedestrian use only
    • Parking lot remains closed

Seward Park

  • Loop trail open to pedestrian use only
    • Parking lot remains closed

Alki Beach

  • Parking lots at Seacrest and Don Armeni remain closed
    • Fire pits and picnic shelters are closed
    • No beach activities

Golden Gardens

  • Parking lots remain closed
    • Fire pits are closed
    • No beach activities

For more info on parking lot and other amenity closures, click here.

“Seattle has thousands of acres of parks for our residents. Parks are serving as an incredible source of relief during this stressful time in our city, but we need to start using them in new ways. We ask that you keep it moving while in parks, and ensure that you are not contributing to creating a crowded or busy park. We have staff and signage out, but we are relying on the public to follow these new guidelines so that we can keep our parks open and safe,” said Jesus Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent.

In addition to the 6,414 acres park system in Seattle and 196 miles of bike lanes, bike trails and greenways, SDOT is converting 2.5 miles of existing neighborhood greenways, calm residential streets, into Stay Healthy Streets this Saturday. These car free streets were selected to amplify outdoor exercise opportunities for areas with limited open space options, low car ownership and routes connecting people to essential services and food take out.

“I appreciate the Mayor piloting a targeted strategy we have seen recently in other cities of temporarily opening carefully selected neighborhood greenways for pedestrians to be outdoors safely, especially in light of efforts to reduce gatherings in major parks during this public health crisis,” said Councilmember Alex Pedersen, chair of the Transportation & Utilities Committee.

The first two Stay Healthy Streets will be in the Central District and West Seattle/High Point neighborhoods. Portions of neighborhood greenways along 25th Ave S and 34th Ave SW/SW Graham and Holly St/High Point Dr SW will open up to people living in the neighborhood for walking, rolling, and biking. Stay Healthy Streets are closed to through traffic – but not residents or deliveries – 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the duration of the emergency or until otherwise noted by the City of Seattle. 

After an initial evaluation, SDOT will aim to convert approximately 15 miles in the coming weeks. SDOT will continue to re-evaluate after this weekend’s pilot and work with community and stakeholders on additional suggestions and recommendations. Additional closures will be subject to change based on additional orders, construction, and availability of SDOT crews and signs. For more details, read SDOT’s blog.

“To support safe social distancing while exercising or walking, rolling, biking to grocery stores or food pick-up, we’ll look to convert additional miles of existing neighborhood greenways into Stay Healthy Streets over the next few weeks,” said Sam Zimbabwe, SDOT Director. “We hope the effort keeps people moving and enjoying the spring weather during this tough time.”

In addition, the City of Seattle has granted one-time permits for the Ballard Farmers Market and University District Farmers Market to operate this weekend. The Ballard Farmers Market has been granted a permit to operate on Sunday with 28 vendors and 12 staff, and the University District Farmers Market has been granted a permit to operate on Saturday with 30-35 vendors and 12-15 staff. The vendor and staff levels were made in consultation with the City, Public Health – Seattle & King County, Seattle Farmers Market Association (SFMA), and Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets Association (NFMA).

“In recent weeks, we have worked with public health and the farmers markets to rethink our farmers markets to including drive-throughs, online ordering, and new social distancing guidance so that individuals can continue to pick up healthy food safely. Seattle can lead the way on ensuring safe and healthy operations in our new normal,” concluded Mayor Durkan.

The City has been in close communication with the NFMA and SFMA for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and is partnering with the organization to ensure farmers markets can reopen in a way that meets Public Health – Seattle & King County social distancing requirements and prevents the further community spread of the COVID-19 virus. Ballard and University District were selected for the one-time permit after several conversations with the City in which they demonstrated their ability to ensure vendor and community compliance with necessary social distancing guidelines. In addition, the University District Farmers Market has the highest SNAP/EBT usage of any Seattle year-round farmers market.

The City will work with the farmers markets this weekend to monitor compliance with necessary public health practices and will determine the possibility for extended openings for these and other markets after this weekend. Customer and vendor compliance is critical to ensuring the continued opening of the farmers markets. Before you shop, please review this list of customer and vendor responsibilities and expectations.