Stop the spread by staying local

  • Sat Jul 4th, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

Submitted by the Washington State Department of Health

As counties are reopening and the weather warms up, it’s a good time to check out a local park or camping area. But don’t get too far out of town — COVID-19 is spreading at different rates in different counties. We don’t want people traveling across county lines and bringing the virus with them or taking it back home.

Be prepared and mostly self-sufficient when you set out for your local park or camping trip. Since many towns and businesses are not open, or not open to their typical capacity, it may not be as easy as you remember to pick up a jug of water, snacks, or meals along the way. Generally, you will find that day-use parks close at dusk, and the playgrounds are still closed. There are no guarantees on the restroom facilities. Bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.

Part of being prepared is making sure the camp or park you are headed to is open before you leave. Most of our state-managed lands are open for day use and camping — especially in counties that are in Phase 2 and above. However, other local, tribal, and federal land may still be closed. If you are planning to camp, consider the layout of the campsite. While some campsites in Washington state parks are spaced far apart and allow for social distancing, others sit quite close to each other.

Help keep everyone safe while you enjoy the outdoors

• Keep the group small. Camp with people in your household and with fewer than five friends from other households.

• Enjoy the outdoors when healthy. If you feel even a little bit under the weather, wait for it to pass before visiting public parks.

• Be flexible. If you get there and it looks crowded, have a back-up plan so you can go somewhere else or come back another time.

• Practice physical distancing. Keep six feet between you and those outside your immediate household. Launch one boat at a time to give others enough space to launch safely. Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you.

Practice compassion

Be kind and respectful to the rangers, park aides, field staff, and other park visitors. This means staying at least six feet away from them. It means putting your mask on to have a conversation with them. And it means following the rules so the ranger doesn’t need to put themselves at risk to come have a chat with you. Remember, crowded parks are closed parks, so do your part to keep them open for everyone. Don’t forget your Discover Pass!

More information

Information changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at You can also contact the DOH call center, 6 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week at 1–800–525–0127.