A crowded Hendry’s beach Friday afternoon; the county is prepared to close parks and beaches if people do not social distance. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

County authorities have warned that, despite the increasing hot weather, visitors now flocking to beaches must continue to practice social distancing. 

On Friday afternoon, the County Parks Division warned that unless citizens begin to display more responsible behavior at county beaches, trails, and parks, authorities would close parking facilities at those areas. In a press release, County Parks stated, “Park staff will be monitoring its parks regularly and will close parking and vehicle access if parks become too crowded. Parks with vehicular access closures may remain open provided visitors practice safe, physical distancing of six feet or more.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, several facilities have already been closed– including county campgrounds, the boat launch at Goleta Beach pier, playgrounds, dog parks, and BBQ/picnic facilities. 

However, unlike many other counties in California, beaches in Santa Barbara County have remained open. In recent days, however, the beaches have been filled with groups of people, many of whom have been neglecting social distancing practices. 

This weekend, county workers will be out in force at the beaches encouraging groups to observe social distancing. County authorities stressed that they hope to avoid restricting access to beaches and other recreational areas, but will be forced to do so if people do not behave responsibility. 

The City of Santa Barbara contemplated closing the beaches before Easter but has kept them open so far. “Look, we get it, it’s hot and 60 percent of the population are renting and don’t have air conditioning so they’re going to want to get out,” said Paul Casey, an administrator with the city. “But please observe social distancing guidelines. We really don’t want to have to close the parking lots. If you show up at the beach and it looks too crowded, please go somewhere else.” 

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