A WDFW official says his agency will try to get out information as soon as possible on what Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order announced tonight to help contain COVID-19 will mean for constituents.
Region 6 Director Larry Phillips told Mark Yuasa that WDFW is working to clear up 20-plus issues with Inslee’s office as local governments also begin to take action on their own to bar access to fishing facilities to reduce the impetus for people to travel to coastal communities, where confirmed cases are far fewer than in Washington’s urban centers.
According to the Governor’s Office, the order is similar to moves last week by New York and California and requires residents to stay home except for essential activities, all “social, spiritual and recreational” gatherings have been banned, which builds on previous numerical limitations, and nonessential businesses will be closed, all for at least the next two weeks.
“People can still participate in activities such as bike rides, gardening, and dog walking — as long as they follow social distancing rules,” Inslee’s press release states.
At this hour, WDFW’s frequently updated coronavirus response page says fishing and hunting seasons are open but that “significant travel is not advised.”
Reporting on The Outdoor Line’s blog, Yuasa tonight reports that three Washington coastal ports are now essentially inaccessible one way or another for launching private recreational boats, which otherwise would be targeting lingcod and rockfish in the Pacific.
WDFW’s Phillips termed the developments “uncharted waters” and last week had mused with this reporter about what Pacific County’s move that led to the closure of the weekend’s razor clam dig might mean for other upcoming fishing seasons. This is the time of year Evergreen State anglers renew their licenses.
“We should have more information by (Tuesday) and will get the word out as soon as possible,” Phillips told Yuasa.
A question to a WDFW spokesman shortly after Inslee’s address to the state tonight had not been returned as of 9 p.m. To say that events are extremely fluid might be an understatement.
Elsewhere in Washington today, the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area said it was removing all of its docks from the banks of the reservoir and closed federal campgrounds and restrooms there.
Camping on state lands in Washington has been closed and the entire state park system in Oregon is shut down.
Earlier Monday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s own executive order led ODFW to tweet “Please do this. Stay Home. Save Lives,” and urged sportsmen to “minimize traveling to hunt and fish and find a destination close to home.”
Some Oregon ports have also closed their docks.
A few guides in both states say they are suspending trips for the time being as well, despite coming up on the heart of the Columbia spring Chinook season.
Forks-based guide Bob Kratzer was praised for doing so to protect his community after making his announcement earlier today.
A total of 110 people in Washington have died from COVID-19 and there have been 2,221 confirmed cases. In Oregon, the tally is five deaths and 191 cases.
The impetus behind the governors’ moves is to “flatten the curve” of the outbreak as much as possible by sharply reducing social interactions, which will help get things back to normal life more quickly than not acting.
Health tips from Oregon fish and wildlife managers include:
If you’re ill, stay home.
Cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue (then throw it away) or inside of your elbow.
Avoid touching your face.
Wash regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It’s up to you to practice good personal hygiene, and not every place at every park can be kept clean all the time.
If a place is so crowded you can’t maintain a healthy social distance—at least six feet—find a different place to go.