City closes libraries, most community centers, parks buildings, and recreation programs

This afternoon Mayor Durkan announced the city’s latest move to combat the spread of COVID-19: effective at 6pm tomorrow, all Seattle Library locations will be closed. In addition, Seattle Parks and Recreation will “cancel all programming, rentals, and permitted events, and close all community centers, pools, environmental learning centers, and other recreation facilities,” with the exception of preschool programs and hygiene services.

This follows an order from Public Health Seattle-King County yesterday banning gatherings of less than 250 people in the county unless the organizers can observe the mandatory public health regulations on social distancing.

“We did not take this decision lightly,” said Durkan in a press release announcing the closures.”We know that our libraries and community centers serve as important neighborhood hubs and provide essential services to our residents. But we also know that given the high-volume of people who pass through our facilities each day, it would be extremely difficult to implement the mandatory public health guidance as it relates to social distancing,”

Here is what is NOT closing:

  • Preschool programs, including the ones that operate out of the city’s community centers. The Parks and Recreation Department also said that it is looking at “alternate programs for childcare,” doubly important given the closure of the Seattle Public Schools.
  • Hygiene services programs. The shower programs at Delridge, Green Lake, Meadowbrook, Miller and Rainier community centers will remain open, as well as all park restrooms and handwashing stations.
  • Seattle Public Library’s extensive digital services. That includes rentals of e-books, audiobooks, streaming movies and TV, and music, as well as access to magazines and newspapers online. The library also said that it is extending loan periods and materials don’t need to be returned until the Library has returned to full operation.

In Durkan’s press release, she emphasizes the seriousness of the danger from the COVID-19 outbreak. “In the coming days and weeks, I expect that we will need to continue making difficult decisions like this one. We’re doing everything we can to continue City operations as possible, but ultimately, we must take necessary mitigation measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, especially to those individuals most at risk. If we fail to act, the consequences could be devastating.”

The closures are scheduled to last until at least April 13.