Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood announced today (Monday, April 20, 2020) a number of City-hosted summer events and programs are canceled, as part of county-wide efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
From festivals and triathlons to full-day summer camps and sports leagues, City-hosted events that encourage people to gather are canceled in Bellingham this summer.
Mayor Fleetwood’s announcement follows Whatcom County Health Department Director Erika Lautenbach’s recommendation last week to cancel summer events throughout Whatcom County.
An April 14, 2020, Health Department statement notes that modeling presented on April 13 indicate Whatcom County is “on the downside of the first wave of COVID-19 spread locally.” “Scenarios suggest that with continued social distancing, the next wave could be mitigated as well. However, if group gatherings resume too soon, the virus’ spread could be deadlier,” the statement continues.
City-hosted events canceled
Following the Health Department’s recommendation will mean a significant change from a typical Bellingham summer.
Cancellations announced by Mayor Fleetwood today, effective immediately and until further notice, include:
- Annual City-hosted events that draw many participants, such as the Kids Fest, Lake Padden Triathlon, Youth Triathlon, and All-Comers Track meets, Library Children’s Craft Fair, are canceled.
- All-day summer day camps and Parks and Recreation athletic leagues are canceled.
- All typical summer aquatic programs are canceled, and the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center will remain closed until further notice.
Decisions pending on City-permitted events
Mayor Fleetwood said he is working with City partner agencies, health officials, Whatcom Unified Command, the county-wide elected officials’ policy group, and consulting with the Governor’s Office, to determine the extent of additional event cancellations in the City.
Decisions are still pending regarding events and activities that are not organized by the City but require City approval to proceed.
City staff are working with the many community partners that have agreements or contracts with the City, to evaluate needs and feasibility on a case-by-case basis.
For example, the Bellingham Farmers Market has been allowed to provide limited services in the City’s Depot Market Square with strict health protocols in place. Farmers markets are considered essential under the Governor’s order, similar to grocery stores.
Mayor Fleetwood said his approach parallels state and region-wide efforts to resume economic and community activity in phases, or “more like the slow turn of a dial than the flip of a switch.”
“Taking the Health Department’s recommendation seriously means doing everything we can to reduce the number of people gathering in Bellingham,” Mayor Fleetwood said. “Cancelling these City events and programs will help protect those most at risk for severe illness or death, continuing all our efforts underway this spring to ‘flatten the curve.'”
“Our goal is to increase business and community activity in well-planned phases, with measures in place that protect public health. Our ability to responsibly and successfully re-open our economy could be further damaged if we move too quickly to resume activities that we know put people at risk,” he said.