Seattle restricting park hours in fight against COVID-19

SEATTLE — Sixteen of Seattle’s most popular parks will close early to keep crowds from gathering.

One park won’t reopen until the day after Labor Day.

Gas Works Park will have the dubious honor of being closed all day on Labor Day.

Still, a lot of people have not got the message that this park will be closed.

What are the COVID-weary to do on this sunny, warm and last official holiday of summer?

The answer for hundreds of people in the Emerald City was to head to a park.

“This is a beautiful park,” said Anitra Hill of Bellevue. “It’s my first time here. I would love to come back.”

But then she and a friend were told the city closed Gas Works Park all day on Labor Day.

“This is news,” said Oti Peprah of Seattle. “Why is the city shutting it down?”

It’s due to COVID-19, he was told.

“I can see it,” he said, looking around. “I mean, it’s crowded.”

Indeed, Seattle/King County Public Health has data that shows the rate of transmission of COVID-19 began going up within days of the last big summer holiday: July Fourth.

The numbers are finally dropping again, but the fear remains there could be another holiday spike.

So Seattle is limiting the hours of operation for 16 of the Emerald City’s most popular parks. And Gas Works Park will be closed altogether on Labor Day.

The major parks are:

- Alki

- Carkeek

- Discovery

- Gas Works

- Golden Gardens

- Green Lake

- Judkins

- Kubota Garden

- Lincoln

- Magnuson

- Seward

- Volunteer

- Washington Park Arboretum

- West Seattle Stadium

- Woodland

But 11 miles to the south at Seward Park, the news that this and other parks will close early Sunday and Monday night didn’t go down well.

“I feel like a lot of people in Seattle are actually, in a way, paying attention to the 6 feet,” said Ursula Bvuma of Madrona Park. “We’re respecting each other’s space. And there is no need for that.”

“I’m not sure what that will accomplish compared to what’s happening now in the parks,” said Jessica Emard of Mount Baker. “I don’t see how tomorrow would be a different day than today.”

Some say they see the city’s point.

“Well, I don’t know,” said Geoff Anderson of Columbia City. “With this COVID thing, we’ve got to manage it somehow. Yeah, but closing it? How are they even going to manage that?”

That is a question KIRO 7 would also like answered — but no one at Seattle Parks answered any email or voice message.

So KIRO 7 will be at Gas Works Park on Monday to see just how the city plans to keep those who want in — out.