Arrow-right Camera

Color Scheme

Subscribe now


Fishing, golfing restrictions may be relaxed soon, Inslee says during S-R forum

Restrictions on fishing and golf may be relaxed in the coming days as the state continues to open up various parts of the economy, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday.

Appearing on a Spokesman-Review Northwest Passages Community Forum, Inslee talked about new rules to allow some construction to resume and took a series of questions from readers on the state’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

He used his favorite analogy: The change will be like turning a dial, not flipping a switch.

Restrictions on recreation and elective surgery may be the next to be relaxed, probably in the coming days, he said. That led naturally into the most frequent question from readers before and during the forum, “What about fishing?” Along with the related question of why fishing was restricted when, for many people, it’s easy to socially distance because they do it by themselves.

“This is a hard one, because there are so many things that we do by ourselves that still involve physical contact,” Inslee said

When the state was determining its restrictions for the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, the epidemiologists said the goal was to reduce movement in the population, he said. Even when people go fishing alone, they usually drive somewhere. They may stop for gas, grab a candy bar, talk to the cashier. Stop at the bait shop, catch a load of fish and show them off on the dock. On the way home, they may stop to show their brother what they caught and have a beer. Over time, all those contacts have an impact, he said.

“The good news for people who want to go fishing is, when we release restrictions on outdoor recreation, fishing’s going to be part of that,” he said. It was being discussed Friday and an announcement is expected “in the next few days.”

Allowing golfers back on the links is also under consideration, he said, adding, “although many people don’t consider golf recreation … they consider it a form of torture.” He might be one of those people. Inslee confided that his wife, Trudi, is a good golfer who has beaten him for 50 years.

Asked if Spokane or other areas of Eastern Washington would be allowed to open their economies sooner than the hard-hit areas of the Puget Sound – something local officials are pushing for and conducting a survey on – Inslee said it could happen on some things. State officials are “open to suggestions” on that.

“It may be possible on segments. We might be able to open up elective surgeries in some places before other places because they have adequate (personal protective equipment) and because they have adequate (hospital) surge capacity,” he said. “That’s a place where you might see some specialization of the orders.”

But he cautioned restrictions are most effective before the virus hits rather than after, and there have been serious clusters of infections in Eastern Washington, including a meat plant in Wallula and an agricultural facility in Chelan. The state is actually “bending the curve” of infections down in the Central Puget Sound, and it’s going up in some Eastern Washington areas.

“We just are not out of the woods yet,” he said. “If we removed all of these restrictions like a light switch, the virus is going to come roaring back.”

Inslee also revealed why he seems to be neatly coiffed, even though barber shops and hair salons have been closed as nonessential businesses for more than a month. He got a haircut Easter morning, he said, from Trudi, with clippers she hadn’t used for decades but managed to keep.