On March 23, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order that prohibits social gatherings and non-essential business in Washington for at least two weeks.
Guidelines during this pandemic are changing so fast. What does this new order mean for families with kids around Seattle and across the state? Can we still go outside?
“Stay home” sure sounds like families are not supposed to leave the house. But this is not the case! In his televised address, Gov. Inslee said that getting outside for fresh air and exercise qualifies as an “essential activity” and is therefore allowed.
Going outside is not only allowed, it is, in fact, encouraged — for the physical and mental health of both kids and adults.
So what can families do? Gov. Inslee specifically mentions in the order the following encouraged activities: walking, hiking, running and biking. But these are not the only activities families can do.
Families can throw a Frisbee, practice cartwheels, juggle a soccer ball, play tag or fly a kite. Look for birds, smell the flowers, walk your dog, ride scooters, plant a garden, chase pigeons or play a lawn game. (Our family likes Viking Bowling!)
Here's the important part: You need to do this stuff with only your own family, not with other people. Kids and families must practice social distancing and not gather in groups.
The other important thing to remember is what's open and what's closed. In most Seattle-area municipalities, park spaces and trails are open — but double check where you are. Playgrounds are generally closed or not advised to visit. The city of Seattle has closed sports courts and athletic fields to discourage organized games and pick-up games. It may still be okay for individual families to play catch or kick a ball on athletic fields, while practicing social distancing, of course, if other families are doing the same thing in another part of the field.
Update: In a head-scratching move, Seattle Parks closed parking lots at some of its largest parks, though the parks grounds remain open. The affected parks are Green Lake, Lincoln Park, Golden Gardens, Magnuson Park, Gas Works Park, Seward Park, Discovery Park and Alki Beach. The parking lot closures begin March 25. Seattle Parks indicated city residents should visit their neighborhood parks, but many neighborhood parks are too small to provide the wide-open spaces needed for social distancing, or for families to pursue the exercise activities specifically encouraged by Gov. Inslee.
- Washington State Parks are also closed, as of March 25.
- King County Parks are closed, as of March 25.
- Washington State Department of Natural Resources-managed lands are closed to recreation.
- Road access to Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park are closed.
Check out some ideas below for getting outside and staying active with your family — it can only help during these anxious times.