July 1, 2020

Lisa Stromme Warren
Washington State Department of Health

Most Washingtonians Should Limit Summer Travel Plans

The Washington State Department of Health is encouraging people in our state to limit summer travel plans to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

First, be familiar with the Safe Start plan and how it applies to your county. Governor Jay Inslee’s initiative for a phased Safe Start plan details travel allowances for people who live in counties under different phases. Phases 2 and 3 allow more travel than Phase 1, but that’s not a green light for everyone to travel as much as they want.

“We still want people to limit their travel,” says State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “We have places in Washington with a lot of COVID-19 activity. If there’s a lot of cross-state travel this summer, that could spread disease around the state.” She says it’s understandable that people are ready to get out and enjoy the good weather, “But Public Health is requesting that if people do travel, that they stay closer to home. If people want to travel and it’s allowed based on their phase, we don’t want people traveling across the state. Stay local.”

Although cross-state travel is strongly discouraged, outdoor activities are still OK when done with the proper precautions. Department of Health is sharing tips for enjoying the outdoors safely during a COVID-19 summer:

  • Stay six feet away from other people
  • Wear a mask when you’re around others
  • Keep your social circles small
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your face
  • If you’re around other people, being outdoors is better than indoors

Knowing what phase your county is in is important. Many outdoor summer activities, such as pools and waterparks will not be opening before counties advance to phases 3 and 4. As for camping - it is allowed in some phases, but all camping is not equal. Camping with your immediate family is a much safer choice than camping with a large group of people.

Another concern is traveling to a state with several COVID-19 hotspots, contracting the virus, and then bringing it home. Says Dr. Lofy, “We are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 activity in many states and increased cases here in Washington. It’s incredibly important that everyone does their part to slow down transmission by limiting or changing travel plans.”

 “Travel that includes sightseeing and dining out can increase the spread of the disease. If everyone goes about their lives as normal this summer we will likely  see a resurgence of cases and may need to close down businesses again which we don’t want to do,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “So we want to see people stay close to home.”

For more information see the DOH website

Whatcom County is currently in Phase 2. Please see our Travel Advisory for updated information about what is restricted and what is allowed in Bellingham and Whatcom County.

Covid Washington State Phase 2

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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