SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, CA — Beaches will close indefinitely from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting this weekend due to concerns about the new coronavirus, Santa Cruz County announced.
Visitors continue to defy warnings from local officials by traveling to and congregating at local beaches, said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart in a news release issued by the county Wednesday. Local law enforcement officers will enforce the order, which Santa Cruz County Health Officer Gail Newel is expected to issue soon.
“Unfortunately, these actions are necessary to protect the health and
welfare of our most vulnerable residents," Hart said.
People may only cross the sands to surf, paddleboard, boogie board, swim or engage in other forms of exercise involving the ocean. Trails, sidewalks and parkways adjacent to beaches will remain open, as will non-beach areas of parks, the county said.
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Newel has previously said that she has not wanted to close beaches because of the role they play in maintaining physical and mental health.
Outside of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., beaches will remain open only for people engaging in exercise.
Any activities not related to exercise such as sunbathing, sightseeing and standing will remain off limits. Umbrellas, beach chairs, coolers, shade structures, tents, barbecues and other equipment are still prohibited, the county said.
California law dictates that violating an emergency order is punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or jail time.