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Health - Public Health News

Posted on: April 15, 2020

Keep Our Open Spaces Safe Places During COVID-19

It’s starting to feel more like Spring in our lovely corner of the Pacific Northwest, and that means we may be eager to use our county’s extensive trail and park network. Getting outside can reduce stress, keep you physically active, and improve your mood. We encourage getting fresh air and urge everyone to use new guidelines to keep our open spaces safe for everyone.

Here are some recommendations to help keep you and others safe while enjoying the outdoors:

  • Keep moving, then leave. At this time, parks remain open so we can get fresh air and exercise. These spaces are open so we can stay active, not to hang out. City of Bellingham is requesting everyone follow these guidelines.
  • Stay 6 feet away from others, at all times. If this is not possible, find a less busy area. Only go to parks alone or with members of your own household. If you’re at a park or on a trail and it’s difficult to maintain six feet of physical distance between yourself and others, look for a different place to be. Wider trails are better, like old logging roads. We rely on each and every resident to make decisions that make physical distancing possible. If you’re curious about what parks and trails are within walking distance of your home, check out the park-finder app.
  • Be considerate: If you are passing someone on a trail from behind, let them know, and leave plenty of space between each other (at least 6 ft). If you are walking or bicycling in a group with household members, move to a single file line when passing to allow for enough space between others. Don’t spit or blow your nose on the ground. If walking a dog, shorten the leash when necessary so others can pass easily. If you see a dog, avoid the urge to pet it.
  • Think about your ability to be outside relative to others. If you have plenty of open space in your own neighborhood, leave public parks and trails for people who don’t have those resources nearby. Use parks and trails when they are least busy.
  • Be safe, use common sense, obey rules and laws. Respect a park’s “closed” sign and encourage others to do the same. Be prepared for park restrooms and drinking fountains to be closed.
  • Reconsider risky activities. Don’t take chances that might land you in the emergency room or a doctor’s office. Be prepared with necessary safety equipment and extra water.
  • Avoid driving to recreate if possible: walk or bike from your home if you can. When you arrive at a trailhead or park, don’t congregate in the picnic areas or parking lots.
  • Consider wearing a mask. WCHD recommends wearing a cloth mask when in public places. This is even more important if you’re breathing hard, like while jogging or walking up hills.

Curious about what’s open and what organizations are doing to help users be socially distant while using trails? Check out these resources:

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