UW asking people to avoid visiting campus to see cherry blossoms

SEATTLE — The cherry trees in the University of Washington Quad, Somei-yoshino, are expected to reach peak bloom the week of March 23.

Thousands of tourists typically frequent the quad during blossom season to take pictures among the 29 cherry trees.

However, this year the university is asking people to stay home and enjoy the blossoms virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The university’s order is in compliance with state and local public health proclamations that prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19,” UW spokesperson Michelle Ma said in a news release.

Gov. Jay Inslee has banned events of more than 50 people and federal officials recommend people avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more people.

UW canceled in-person classes earlier this month for its more than 50,000 students beginning due to coronavirus cases in the region. The university will run online-only classes through at least April 24.

The cherry trees in the Quad, are about 87 years old and were originally planted on arboretum land near Montlake Boulevard, campus arborist Sara Shores said. The trees were moved to the quad in 1962 due to construction of Highway 520.

UW offers a 24/7 livestream of the cherry blossoms on its YouTube page.