California State Parks reopened the parking lots at 143 state beaches and parks this week, quickening the pace of reopening since they began reopening lots in mid-May.
State beaches and parks have been closed to all vehicles since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the advent of summer and firm social distancing measures has spurred more and more to reopen.
Overcrowding became more of a concern in April and May when state beach and park re-openings began. Due to high temperatures and Memorial Day weekend, many people traveled outside of cities to parks and beaches. In some cases social distancing was not practiced, leading to overcrowded conditions and potential coronavirus spread.
State Parks has reiterated proper social distancing rules both through statements and on Twitter.
Wondering who you can gather with when you visit our parks and beaches? At this time of COVID-19, only with those from the same household like this flock of birds enjoying a sunset at Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. #WildlifeWednesday #CAStateParks #YourActionsSaveLives pic.twitter.com/G61eN9tl5o
— CA State Parks (@CAStateParks) May 27, 2020
“Increasing access at park units does not mean recreating in the outdoors is going back to normal,” noted a statement from California State Parks. “Visitors should expect a different state park experience than they are used to.”
Current rules include being 6 feet apart from other groups of people, although there has been no issued rule on face coverings. State Parks also asks visitors to stick with visiting places close to home and noted that there will be a limited amount of activities due to many associated businesses and rental stores still being closed.
The state beach and park reopenings have also called into question why they have chosen to open now when rates in California have seen steady increases and rates could possibly climb even higher due to no social distancing being observed during the recent George Floyd protests.
“Summer is here and a lot of people want travel, get out of the house, and cool off at the beach,” said Nikki O’Donnell, a nurse who has helped treat COVID-19 coronavirus patients. “But gatherings like this, well, they really need to respect social distancing. Being outside doesn’t mean anything when people are almost stepping on each other.”
“I’ve also been seeing cases originating from trips to the beach in April and May now, so I know it’s possible.”
“We can’t see beach scenes or park scenes like we’ve seen during the past few weeks. The protests were even worse for potential spread, granted, but we need to remember to be safe.”
“If we see rates climb even higher we may have more places shut down again and we go back in readiness phases. We’ve already seen this happen. No one wants strict stay-at-home orders again.”
In addition to State parks and beaches, more National Parks are reopening in California as well. However, the National Park re-openings also come with similar social distancing rules and warnings
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