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Seattle to shut 20 miles of streets to most vehicles amid coronavirus pandemic

Early afternoon traffic is thin on Interstate 5 north of downtown Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2020. With many people working from home or otherwise not traveling, Seattle's notorious traffic has been minimal during the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Early afternoon traffic is thin on Interstate 5 north of downtown Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2020. With many people working from home or otherwise not traveling, Seattle's notorious traffic has been minimal during the outbreak of the new coronavirus. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Almost 20 miles (32 kilometres) of Seattle streets will permanently close to most vehicles by the end of May, Mayor Jenny Durkan said Thursday.

The streets had been closed temporarily to provide more space for people to walk and bike at a safe distance during the coronavirus pandemic, The Seattle Times reported.

Now the closures will remain even after Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order is lifted.

The Seattle Department of Transportation will replace the temporary closure signs on the so-called Stay Healthy Streets with permanent markings, guiding drivers to other routes.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Vancouver mulls street closures to boost physical distancing

The program, which has rolled out in phases, has been implemented in the Aurora-Licton Springs, Ballard, Central District, West Seattle, Greenwood, Othello, Rainier Beach and Beacon Hill neighbourhoods.

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Residents, delivery drivers, garbage and recycling workers and emergency response vehicles can continue to use the streets.

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WATCH: Aired April 7, 2020) Stanley Park being closed to cars

Stanley Park being closed to cars
Stanley Park being closed to cars

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says the city is looking at closing some streets to vehicles to give pedestrians and cyclists more space for social distancing.

Earlier this month, the city worked with the park board to close Stanley Park to vehicle traffic as well as close eastbound lanes on Beach Avenue, along English Bay, from Hornby Street to Stanley Park Drive.

Calling the closures “incredibly successful,” Stewart said Wednesday that the changes are allowing more people stay active during the COVID-19 pandemic.