SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego County health officials announced Monday that if cities cannot maintain safe social distancing procedures at their parks and beaches, the county will close them to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“We encourage outdoor exercise as long as people maintain 6 feet of social distancing,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “It looks like people are not able to do that.”
The county is amending its previous public health order to include the authority to close beaches and parks if municipalities are unable or unwilling to enforce the 6 feet of social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.
The county’s step follows a city ordinance that all public parking lots at parks and beaches in the city of San Diego will remain closed to discourage gatherings and encourage social distancing amid the pandemic.
City officials took the step Sunday in response to crowds gathering over the weekend, and the ordinance went into effect Monday morning.
“Public health officials are clear that gatherings of any size can lead to the spread of COVID-19, which is why they continue to be prohibited everywhere, including at beaches and parks,” San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell said in a statement Sunday. “Local and state rules limiting groups have been in effect for days, so this should not be a surprise to anyone.”
The city of Oceanside also closed all beach parking lots and public playgrounds.
Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland said people can still walk, run or ride a bike, as long as they abide by social distancing rules, which advise people to stay 6 feet away from others.