Washingon Parks Officials Urge Coronavirus Caution During July 4

Lucas Combos

SEATTLE, WA — With the Fourth of July holiday falling on a weekend this year, amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic, Washington State Parks is sharing a few recommendations to encourage safe and responsible celebrations.

Parks officials said the holiday taking place on Saturday this year prompted concerns that large crowds could develop in and around parks, beaches, lakes and rivers. Under current guidance, Washington's largest counties remain in the second of four reopening phases and 17 have reached Phase 3.

Fireworks are illegal in state parks, forests and wildlife reserves, and in many other city and county jurisdictions. Rules that went into effect Friday require face coverings in outdoor spaces where people cannot ensure adequate physical distancing.

General guidelines for all visitors:

  • Recreate close to home and only with members of the same household.
  • Check for park closures before heading out.
  • Bring extra supplies — including hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
  • Pack out what they’ve packed in.
  • Have a Plan B in case the park is too crowded.

Rules for ocean beaches (from Washington State Parks):

  • Camping on the beach is illegal. Do not stay on the beach overnight.
  • Visitors should use restrooms, not dunes, as toilets. It is illegal to pee or poop on the beach.
  • Coastal ecosystems are fragile, and marine life has become increasingly polluted with trash and plastics, some of which cycle into our food chain. Keep our beaches clean!
  • Pack it in, Pack it out! With high tide peaking near 12:30 a.m. on July 5, trash will be washed into the ocean before volunteer groups can pick it up. Garbage receptacles may be available, but visitors should plan to pack out trash and anything they have brought with them. All fireworks must be fully extinguished before visitors dispose of them.
  • Fires must be small, contained and at least 100 feet from the dunes and extinguished before leaving.
  • Although it is legal to drive onto the beach in several areas (25 mph speed limit or less with pedestrian traffic), the high tide will be 8 to 10 feet high, and cars parked below the high tide line may get stuck or washed out to sea.
    • Law enforcement and volunteers will not be able to tow stuck cars. Strongly advised: get off the beach by 11 p.m.
  • State Parks Rangers, along with local law enforcement and Washington State Patrol, will be patrolling the beach, providing education and enforcement.
  • Respect any beach driving closures in areas designated to protect wildlife and marine habitat.
  • Use only legal fireworks. Observe fireworks hours over the holiday:
    • June 29 to July 3: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
    • July 4: 9 a.m. to midnight
    • July 5: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Read more: Outdoor recreation and camping guidelines from Washington State Parks.

Related Coverage:

When And Where You Can Buy Fireworks In Washington

King County Fire Marshal Shares July 4 Fireworks Safety Reminders

Campgrounds To Begin Reopening In 22 Counties

Mount Rainier National Park Reopens Facilities To Public

This article originally appeared on the Seattle Patch