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 [email protected].

“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

    • Fire pits and picnic shelters are closed
    • No beach activities


  • 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

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

“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.