Concerns for overcrowding leading into warm weekend

SEATTLE -- Temperatures will soar near 80 this weekend, and with restrictions loosening it’s creating some fear that proper social distancing measures will not be taken.

“As we open up and more people come in contact we know the virus will start to spread and we want to do it in a way that balances two things: How important is the activity and how risky is the activity,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan in a virtual news conference Thursday afternoon.

New research is showing 95 percent of the region has not been exposed to the coronavirus, according to Durkan.

To prevent crowding outdoors, the City of Seattle is taking precautionary measures at major parks.

The parking lots will continue to be closed and parks will close earlier at 8 p.m.

This weekend 60 ambassadors will be out to remind people of the early closure, and Seattle Police officers will be on patrol.

“There’s just been a ton of people streaming in since we’ve been sitting here,” said Heather, who was sitting on a bench at Golden Gardens Park. “I’m definitely not coming down this weekend just because it’s supposed to be a good weekend and I know there’s going to be a lot of people here. So I’ll just hang out in my yard for the weekend.”

The boating season just officially kicked off, and John Bealefeld and his family were out on their boat together for the first time this season.

“People want to be together and have fun and not have to worry about shaking hands or giving hugs,” said Bealefeld. “We do what we can to respect everything and try to stay safe and healthy, and at the same time be out on the water and have a good time and enjoy what Washington has to give us with its beauty.”

The Seattle Police Department’s Harbor Unit will be out patrolling the waterways this weekend. They say people need to continue social distancing on their boats, and rafting boats together should be avoided.

Meanwhile, Blaine DeWalt, who owns Ballard Kayak and Paddleboard Tours, hopes the nice weather will draw in customers after being shutdown since March.

“It’s been concerning how we’ve had to close our business and I’m cautiously optimistic,” said DeWalt. “I’m just happy to see people getting back out on the water.”

DeWalt said it was a dash to get their business up and ready to open again after hearing the news from the state just days ago.

Some safety measures will be added to ensure social distancing.

“Every piece of equipment gets washed and sanitized after every use. We’re maintaining physical distance by having them tighten themselves.”

Mayor Durkan said people should continue to stay home and stay local, only visiting places within walking distance of homes.

The City is reminding people to stay home if you feel sick and to visit parks when they are less crowded.