As I drove to Orcas Village on Friday, I passed a long line of cars arriving from the mid-afternoon ferry. I recognized none of them, several towed boats or bikes. When I spoke to someone who had been on that ferry, they reported that it was 70% full and he, too, recognized very few people. Later, I saw so many clusters of folks, walking through Eastsound and on the beach, closely together and without masks. Needless to say, I skipped my planned trip to the Market and headed back to Olga.
Nonessential travel is not intended to open until Phase 3 of the Public Health plan put forth by the Governor. San Juan County is in phase 1- stay home, stay safe. While it is legal for hotels and short term rentals to provide housing for essential workers, clearly these folks were here for vacationing.
Where are all these folks staying? My neighbors Jim and Betsy Nelson, owners of Bayside Cottages, are honoring the rules and I am deeply grateful. If your neighbors are not being so gracious, please let the authorities know (this is a link to the instructions-).
Inviting vacationers to the islands increases the risks for the entire community. It also will likely set back our chance to reopen officially, as the current rules require a 3-week span of no new cases. San Juan County has almost a week under our collective belt. We also know that our medical system is fragile and easily overwhelmed. Let’s not risk it.
If you need a mask, email email@example.com. They have a great supply of locally made masks.
This is not a partisan issue, it is a public health issue. The more we follow the Public Health protocols, the sooner we can gear up our economy and invite folks back to the islands. Until then, please follow the recommendations.