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Washington tourist cities: stay home and stay away to slow the spread of coronavirus

With a holiday weekend and spring weather, state and local officials worry that tourism could bring a surge in coronavirus cases and urge people to celebrate at home

State and local officials told people to stay home and stay out of Washington's popular tourist locales, and avoid family events this holiday weekend, to continue to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"We love you, come back and see us in the summer when things are better. But this is not the time," said Ocean Shores mayor Crystal Dingler.

Dingler joined Gov. Jay Inslee and several other local officials encourage would-be visitors to stay home, even if people are itching to get outside.

Ocean Shores also took the steps of closing hotels and beach approaches and has imposed a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. to discourage visitors.

"It’s a time that we would like to have comfort physically being with them in the middle of Passover, on Good Friday, with our kids and grandkids wanting to have an Easter egg hunt," said Inslee. "We understand those things. But this is really a moment for all of us to redouble our efforts and our commitments to our families and our communities to stay safe, stay home and stay healthy." 

Other officials discouraging tourists included Victoria Compton, executive director of the San Juan Economic Development Council, Patricia Byers, mayor of Yakima and Jeff Lambert, executive director of Dishman Hills Conservancy in Spokane.

The local officials' pleas came just a day after Seattle announced a weekend closure of 15 major parks and beaches such as Alki, Lincoln Park, Cal Anderson and Golden Gardens to encourage social distancing.

RELATED: Seattle closing 15 major parks for Easter weekend to help slow spread of coronavirus

Inslee said the data show that Washington has made progress on flattening the curve but the data also predicts a resurgence if Washingtonians stop social distancing too early.

King County parks also remain closed along with state parks in Department of Natural Resources.

Dingler urged residents and visitors to continue social distancing and stay home, despite the city's dependency on tourism. She said Grays Harbor County doesn't have the medical resources of larger areas to handle a surge of COVID-19 cases.

"In March we had two. Now we have 10. That’s a frightening number for us in rural America. I urge people to stay home and stay healthy," she said.

Inslee said so far most people appear to be willing to comply with the stay at home order, but also added that businesses can face penalties for not complying.

"This is actually a misdemeanor if you finally don’t cooperate with this rule, but we don’t want to have to get to that point," he said.

Their message is enjoy your own neighborhood.

"I heard one group suggest that if to get to your walk, you have to drive in your car you’ve gone too far. This is an moment to enjoy a blue sky close to our home," Inslee said.

RELATED: Skagit Valley Tulip Festival called off due to state's coronavirus outbreak