Crowds flocked to the beaches during several days of high temperatures but failed to observe social distancing. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

On Wednesday evening, the Sacramento Bee reported that California Governor Gavin Newsom will move to close the state’s beaches, starting Friday. 

After crowds flocked to the beaches during several days of high temperatures but failed to observe social distancing, Governor Newsom is expected to announce the closure of California’s beaches and state parks on Thursday. Earlier this week, Newsom had delivered pointed comments at beachgoers in Orange and Ventura counties, calling them examples of “what not to do,” as tens of thousands filled the beaches without adhering to social distancing. 

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Last week, authorities in Santa Barbara County urged beachgoers to exercise responsible judgement, emphasizing that the county could close beach and trailhead parking lots if residents failed to stick to social-distancing rules. But with temperatures in the 80s, thousands flocked to the beaches, and the Independent received emails from readers concerned that throngs of people were packing the beaches. 

With temperatures so high, the impulse to get outside and escape the house is perfectly natural, and outdoor recreation is a healthy outlet that can help people find respite from long hours spent inside. However, health officials warn that such activities have to be balanced with public health, and while the temptation may be understandable, crowding public spaces could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases and ultimately prolong the timetable for starting to ease restrictions. 

California has now been under shelter-in-place since March 19, and, while many are surely starting to feel cooped up inside, support for the rules meant to stem the spread of the virus remains overwhelmingly popular among Californians, despite a few protests calling for the state to reopen that received outsized coverage in the media. What’s more, those rules seem to be working: California was one of the first states in the country to implement shelter-in-place orders, and has thus far been able to avoid the baffling caseloads of places like New York. 

The most recent numbers put out by the California Department of Public Health states that California has 46,500 confirmed cases, with 1,887 deaths. In Santa Barbara County, eight residents have died. 

At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor.  Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you  in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.


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