As of October 13, Whatcom County has had 1,481 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The rate per 100,000 population of newly diagnosed cases during the prior two weeks is 61.3, and does not meet the requirement of 25 or less cases to move to Phase 3. Bellingham is the largest city in Whatcom County. See updated details on the Washington State COVID-19 Phase and Risk Assessment Dashboard.
COVID-19 Coronavirus Information Updates
Whatcom County, which includes Bellingham, Ferndale, Blaine, Birch Bay, Point Roberts, Lummi Island, Lynden, Sumas, Everson, Nooksack, Deming, Glacier and Newhalem, is in Phase 2 of Washington State’s Safe Start re-opening plan.
Restaurants may offer in-house dining at 50% occupancy with and limited to 6 individuals and spaced 6 feet apart. Retail stores may open at 30% occupancy. Museums may open at 25% capacity. Face masks are required. Outdoor recreation and agritourism are allowed. All events in City of Bellingham facilities are cancelled through the end of 2020.
Restaurants, Bars, Entertainment Venues
As of October 6, 2020 Restaurants may only serve alcohol until 11:00pm. Restaurants are operating at no more than 50% capacity and party size is no larger than six.
Visit Bellingham has prepared a list of Restaurants Currently Open with In-person dining in Bellingham and Whatcom County
Visit Bellingham also has a list of Restaurants Offering Take Out, Curbside Pickup and Delivery in Bellingham and Whatcom County.
Also beginning on July 30, indoor service at bars must end along with use of gaming areas, such as pool tables, darts, or video games. Bars may continue operations in outdoor seating areas.
While in Phase 2, all entertainment and recreation centers, like arcades, or mini-golf courses, as well as indoor card rooms, will be closed. Movie theatres, museums and libraries are allowed to open at 25% occupancy.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has ordered all businesses in Washington State to require all customers and employees to wear face coverings. Businesses may not serve any customer services or goods if they do not comply with the face covering order.
A Washington statewide order requires individuals to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces such as stores, offices and restaurants, and outdoors when proper social distancing of 6 feet apart cannot be maintained. Face masks are also required in shared public and private spaces. Shared spaces include those used for necessary activities, such as getting in and out of apartment or condo buildings. Face masks must be worn in courtyards, elevators, in hallways and walkways, and in congregate residential settings, like university housing, hotels, and nursing homes.
Number of Cases in Bellingham and Whatcom County
As of Sept. 29, Whatcom County has had 1,355 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The rate per 100,000 population of newly diagnosed cases during the prior two weeks is 61.3, and does not meet the requirement of 25 or less cases to move to Phase 3. Bellingham is the largest city in Whatcom County. See updated details on the Washington State COVID-19 Phase and Risk Assessment Dashboard.
The U.S.- Canada border closure to non-essential travel has been extended through October 21, 2020.
Beginning July 2, Allegiant Travel Company requires customers to wear face masks during all phases of travel, including at the ticket counter, in the gate area, during boarding, on the aircraft and during the flight.
Allegiant Air resumed service to BLI on June 4, with flights to Los Angeles and Las Vegas and ramping up June 5 with service to Las Vegas Palm Springs, Oakland, Phoenix, and San Diego. The schedule for June shows Mondays and Fridays as the most heavily served with 5 daily flights and Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays with two, three, and two flights respectively.
Alaska Ferry from Bellingham
Alaska Marine Highway MV Kennicott resumed service in late June, returning to Bellingham Cruise Terminal with scheduled Alaska ferry service-every- other Saturday through September. MV Matanuska resumed Alaska ferry service from Bellingham on July 3, and continues weekly Friday service through September.
A new Health Mandate for travelers to the State of Alaska went into effect Aug. 11. All travelers into the state must obtain a COVID-19 test 72 hours before departure and upload negative results into the Alaska Travel Portal or have results available to show screeners upon arrival. Travelers with specific types of insurance can be tested with no appointment or referral at Care Medical Group, 4043 Northwest Ave., Bellingham. Results are usually available in 24 – 72 hours. For details call 360-734-4300 or visit the website.
Western Washington University Student Resources
Western Washington University’s Student Health Center has developed a dashboard showing results of COVID-19 testing of Western students. All students living on campus were tested upon arrival. Students can visit Fraser Hall, where the Health Center has established their COVID-19 testing center, for additional testing and information.
The dashboard can be found at https://www.wwu.edu/coronavirus.
Here are a few reminders for students as they prepare to come on WWU’s. campus:
- Practice the 3 W’s - Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance.
- Check your health status with the daily symptom checker at MyWesternHealth.wwu.edu.
- Prepare to receive COVID tests every two weeks at our new on-campus testing facility.
- Join your friends outdoors and in small groups of five or fewer.
- Be prepared to share your green QR badge on your phone to professors if they request to see your green attestation and testing date status.
Guidelines on how to Responsibly Visit Whatcom County
During this global pandemic, the health and safety of our residents and visitors are our highest priorities. Please do your part to help make our tourism industry restart successful and your visit safe and pleasurable. Planning, education and communication are essential to accomplish this. Below is an essential checklist and links to local and state resources to review before you visit.
Fire danger in Washington State is high. Campfires are prohibited in all Washington State Parks including Larrabee State Park and Birch Bay State Park. All outdoor recreational fires are also banned in Bellingham city limits. Up-to-date information on wildfires in Washington can be found on the InciWeb site https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/.
Outdoor Recreation Updates
Most outdoor recreation near Bellingham is open with appropriate safety precautions, including: hiking, biking, camping, beaches, fishing; hunting; boating; horseback riding; paddlesports; tennis; go karts; ORV/motorcross; and golf.
The following Washington State public lands near Bellingham are now open:
- Larrabee State Park is open for day use and camping.
- Birch Bay State park is open for day use and camping.
- Peace Arch Historical State Park is open for day use only.
- Blanchard Mountain (DNR) is open. Restrooms are open. This includes the following recreation sites for day use only: Blanchard Lower Trailhead, Blanchard Upper Trailhead, Samish Overlook, Lily Lake, Lizard Lake, and Les Hilde Trailhead.
- The following Dept of Natural Resources (DNR) campgrounds are open: Beaver Plant Lake, Big Greider Lake, Cutthroat Lakes, Cypress Head, Little Greider Lake, Lower Ashland Lake, Lummi Island, Pelican Beach, and Upper Ashland Lake.
- Whatcom County Parks and Trails remain open. Updates are on the Whatcom Parks & Recreation website.
- Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest most trailheads and day-use areas are open. Restrooms remain closed. Garbage and water service are unavailable.
- North Cascades National Park has begun a phased reopening of trails and campgrounds.
The public is asked to #RecreateResponsibly under these guidelines:
- Know Before You Go: Check the status of the place you want to visit in advance. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a plan B.
- Plan Ahead: Prepare for facilities (such as restrooms) to be closed, pack your own lunch and bring essentials like hand sanitizer, gloves, a face covering (and a bag for your own waste items).
- Stay Close to Home: This is not the time to travel long distances to recreate. Most places are only open for day use.
- Practice Physical Distancing: Adventure only with your immediate household. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home. Gatherings of any size are not allowed.
- Play It Safe: Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained.
- Leave No Trace: Respect public lands and communities and take all your garbage with you.
- Build an Inclusive Outdoors: Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities.
Bellingham and Whatcom County Update
- Our visitor information centers are temporarily closed. If you need visitor information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Full visitor information is at Bellingham.org
- Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood has signed an order canceling all City-permitted events and facility reservations for the summer (PDF), as part of county-wide efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- Whatcom County Health Director, Erika Lautenbach has recommended that all 2020 summer events in Bellingham and Whatcom County should be cancelled – including parades, community festivals and fireworks displays through Aug. 31.
- A single-source information and communication tool on behalf of the Whatcom County’s Unified Command Response to COVID-19 is available online.
- The Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) is providing daily updates of its 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) case information based on disease surveillance activities. Current and total numbers of persons under public health supervision, persons under investigation, and confirmed cases are updated daily at https://whatcomcounty.us/ncov.
- On March 10, 2020 Whatcom County announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19 and Satpal Sidhu, the Whatcom County Executive, in coordination with the Whatcom County Health Board, declared a Whatcom County public health emergency to reduce the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community, view full release here: Whatcom County Emergency Declaration and New Recommendations.
- The Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) is reminding the public to take steps to protect their health and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.
- Western Washington University has implemented a Coronavirus Information page for regular updates.
- Most public events in Bellingham and Whatcom County have been cancelled through the end of August.
- Whatcom County Parks and Trails remain open, although many parks facilities are closed. Updates are on the Whatcom Parks & Recreation website.
- City of Bellingham Parks and trails remain open.
- Port of Bellingham has closed its playgrounds, bike park, workout stations and the picnic shelter at Marine Park.
- City of Ferndale Parks are closed.
- Lummi Island Ferry has reduced service by switching to its dry dock schedule.
Sign up for Whatcom County public alerts here
Everyone should take simple steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Cough and sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue, then throw away the tissue.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you or a family member is sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently used objects and surfaces.
Washington State Updates
- Washington State’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy expired on May 31. Washington State Coronavirus Response website.
- On April 13, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced an agreement on a shared vision for reopening their economies and controlling COVID-19 into the future. Read: joint statement from the governors.
- Washington State Department of Health maintains the current status of COVID-19 in WA State on its website, with updated numbers by county. The Dept. has also established a call center to answer questions from the pubic. Call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.
- Seattle is located in King County. Updated information about COVID-19 cases is on the King County Health Department website.
- Updated information from Visit Seattle is available here.
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA): Traveler updates are available on the Port of Seattle’s website.
- A message from WA Dept of Commerce about Covid-19 business preparedness.
- King County’s printable Planning for Coronavirus Pandemic: A guide for businesses and organizations.
- Amtrak trains have suspended service north of Seattle until further notice.
- The Washington State Ferries call center is operating with limited service beginning Monday, March 23, when agents will begin working remotely based on COVID-19 health recommendations. However, agents will not have the ability to take credit card numbers over the phone, so they will not be able to make reservations or assist customers with ticket purchases. Customers can still call 206-464-6400 to speak with an agent or receive automated schedule and fare information. However, vehicle reservations will need to be made, changed or cancelled online. Refund requests can also be submitted online, and customers are highly encouraged to do so. Customers may also experience longer than normal hold times depending on call volumes.
United States Updates
- On March 11, 2020 President Trump signed a proclamation that restricts travel to the United States from foreign nationals who have recently been in certain European countries. This does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Read the full text of the proclamation here.
- On March 14, 2020 President Trump signed a proclamation that restricts travel to the United States from foreign nationals who have recently been in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Read the full text of the proclamation here.
- On March 16, 2020 President Trump recommended the public not hold gatherings of more than 10 people.
- The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of Level 4 Travel Advisories to several countries.
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a Warning Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel to several countries.
- The U.S. Travel Association encourages travelers and the U.S. travel industry to monitor and follow guidance offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (links and industry updates on the U.S. Travel Association web site).
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the U.S.- Canada border will remain closed to non-essential travel.
- Additional information is on the Destination British Columbia website.
Our hearts go out to all those affected by the COVID-19 Coronavirus around the world. For our local community, as well as for our valued travelers to Bellingham and Whatcom County, we have prepared this Travel Advisory to share the latest and continuously updated information from Whatcom County health officials, the Washington State Department of Health, the US Department of State, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and many other state, national and international agencies, as well as local business and activity updates.