SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — The first phase in Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's plan to reopen the state began Tuesday, meaning parks and other recreational areas in the Inland Northwest are once again be available for use.
The partial reopening, paired with 70-degree weather, had people ready to get out of their house to take advantage of the sun.
“I’m supposed to be deploying here pretty soon, so I was pretty anxious to get out here before I have to leave,” said Daniel Leistikow who spent the morning out on a boat with his family.
For the last two months, casting a fishing line out into the water or even teeing off from any golf course in the state was off-limits.
Steven Nelke is the head golf professional at Hangman Valley Golf Course. The hiatus from being out on the green was an adjustment, but the club has now been able to reopen their gates.
“It was tough to be honest with you, because we’re used to spring in Spokane” explained Nelke. “Everyone is used to getting outside.”
With their reopening, county courses like the Hangman have a new list of guidelines to follow.
Golfers have to call ahead to set a tee time. Play is also limited to two people per group unless it’s a group of four family members living in the same household. These guidelines will be in place for at least the duration of phase one.
“Honestly the golf professionals, the staff, they’ve worked so hard to work through that list and have just done a fantastic job,” said Director of County Courses Doug Chase.
State parks also made their return. Places like Bowl and Pitcher at Riverside are now open for hikers to explore again. Social distance is still recommended when out on the trail but there’s no longer a closure in place.
“It’s rough, it’s really rough,” said Marilyn Keis, who visited the park for her first time. "Being outdoors is the best thing and the weather is finally here and good.”
The next steps for outdoor activities in phase two will ease restrictions even more.
That’s going to allow fewer than five people outside of your household to gather for events like camping.
Phase three will bring back recreational sports with 5-50 people and phase four returns all recreational activities.
Open recreational parks, industries under phase one
Eastern Washington parks
Washington State Parks announced the reopening of a large number of state parks starting on May 5, although the parks will only be open for day-use. Camping is still not allowed at state parks. Fishing will also be allowed on public lands again on May 5.
The following is a list of parks reopening on May 5 in eastern Washington. For a full list of state parks reopening in Washington, click here.
- Alta Lake State Park
- Centennial Trail State Park
- Columbia Plateau Trail
- Conconully State Park
- Curlew Lake State Park
- Fields Spring State Park
- Lake Chelan State Park
- Lake Wenatchee State Park
- Lewis and Clark Trail
- Lincoln Rock State Park
- Lyons Ferry State Park
- Mount Spokane State Park
- Palouse Falls State Park
- Pearrygin Lake State Park
- Riverside State Park
- Rockport State Park
- Squilchuck State Park
- Steamboat Rock State Park
- Steptoe Battlefield State Park
- Steptoe Butte State Park
- Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park
- Twenty-Five Mile Creek State Park
- Wenatchee Confluence State Park
Parks run by Spokane County and the City of Spokane have remained open, although playground equipment will remain closed until further notice.
County and city golf courses
Spokane County announced last week that it would be reopening its golf courses with additional restrictions mandated by Inslee.
These restrictions include :
- Required tee times, no drop-in play
- Only allowed to play in pairs or singles, exceptions for families living in the same household
- Flagsticks must be left in the hole
- Cups are being lined to avoid people reaching into them to retrieve balls
- Garbage cans and bunker rakes have been removed
- To-go orders only from clubhouses
The City of Spokane is also reopening its golf courses with the same restrictions outlined by Inslee.
More businesses considered essential
Phase one also makes it so more businesses are considered "essential" and therefore allowed to reopen with social distancing and sanitation protocols in place.
These businesses will be able to resume operations in the coming weeks as the state moves through phase one and closer to phase two.
These additional businesses include:
- Auto sales
- Retailers that can provide curbside pickup
- Car washes
- House keeping
- Pet walkers
In addition to more recreation and industries reopening, drive-in spiritual services can also reopen, but only one family can be in each vehicle.
Large group gatherings are still banned, although the next three phases gradually allow gatherings in increasing sizes.