Beaches from Santa Cruz to Big Sur are closed this holiday weekend.
Local leaders say they hope the unified message will deter people from trying to come to the beach like they have during past closures this summer.
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“The pandemic is real, the pandemic still exists and unfortunately we have no choice but to close our beaches for this weekend,” said Monterey’s assistant city manager Nat Rojanasathira.
Labor Day weekend is the traditional last hurrah of summer and leaders were worried the holiday in combination with sweltering temperatures inland were a recipe for overcrowded beaches.
Cities came under fire from citizens during the last heat wave when police failed to prevent people from using closed beaches. Rojanasathira said this time they’ve increased police staffing and those who don’t comply will be fined.
Water access at beaches is allowed but people must be actively swimming, scuba diving or engaging in a water activity. Rojanasathira said wading will not be allowed.
“Just everybody dipping their toes in would lead to overcrowding and could lead to the spread of COVID-19,” said Rojanasathira.
The closures are not without controversy. Some locals are complaining that they should be allowed to access their hometown beaches. Central Valley visitors are complaining the closures are unfair during a heatwave.
“I think they should be open, I think there should be some access to the beach, I really do,” said Tyler Roach of Modesto.
Roach said beaches provide plenty of room to spread out.
Kristy Michie with the Monterey County Health Department said there is epidemiological evidence that visitors this summer have been spreading Covid-19. However, it shows it is visitors who are staying with friends and family who are spreading the virus to their relatives. She said they do not have evidence showing general visitors to the area have increased cases.
The county health department is asking everyone to be vigilant this holiday weekend as cases in the county are still considered widespread under the governor’s new Covid-19 monitoring system.
READ THE FULL STORY:Monterey plans to step up enforcement on beach closures
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