Coronavirus: Gov. Newsom closes parking at all state parks and beaches, more likely to follow

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered the closure of parking lots at all state parks and beaches on Monday, marking the latest of statewide restriction aimed at stopping the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.

The governor also added that the state had increased patrols at state parks and beaches to educate residents about maintaining adequate distance between one another — and writing fines if necessary.

Newsom’s announcement came one day after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision to close all its state parks and beaches and South Carolina’s governor ordered police to disperse large crowds on its beaches.

California’s sweeping stay-at-home order aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus may have stopped people from hanging out at bars and restaurants, but some residents flocked to in droves to the great outdoors.

From the parks in Marin County to the trails in the East Bay to the beaches in Los Angeles, the number of people fleeing their homes for much-needed open air has been unprecedented — prompting some officials to question whether the increased demand could negate the goal of the statewide order to limit close contact with others.

“What we saw this past weekend at a lot of parks was more than what we see even on the busiest holidays,” Dave Mason, spokesperson for the East Bay Regional Park District, said Monday. “People clearly want to get out for exercise and stress release, but overcrowding is definitely a concern.”

Although officials across the state have encouraged residents to maintain healthy lifestyles and exercise during this time, even that, it turns out, has its limits.

After one day of visitors swarming trails and beaches in Marin County, health officials ordered the closure of all motorized access to all parks within the county on Sunday, including the Point Reyes National Seashore, Muir Woods National Monument and Mount Tamalpais. The parks are still open to residents who can walk or bike to a trail or park near their homes.

“This is a necessary step to protect our community,” Lisa Santora, Marin deputy public health officer, said during the briefing.

In Los Angeles, the city closed parking lots near two of the most popular beaches in the state — Venice Beach and Santa Monica.

The beaches of Santa Cruz have been visibly busier since the shelter-in-place order took effect, and though the sandy expanses offer enough room for social distancing, stairways for accessing the beach, and pathways along the coast, have at times been sufficiently crowded that people were often passing within six feet of each other.

On Sunday, with head-high waves crashing onto the shore and mostly sunny weather, parking areas for surf spots in Santa Cruz and north to Año Nuevo State Park were packed with vehicles, and surfers in wetsuits dotted the swells and ripped down the wave faces.

Santa Cruz County hasn’t yet gone so far as to close its beaches yet, but it did issue a plea Monday to avoid crowding its shoreline.

“Santa Cruz County is a popular destination for college students during this time of year,” Sheriff Jim Hart …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Health


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