SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (CBS SF) — Officials in Santa Cruz County on Monday issued a statement urging travelers to avoid crowding the county’s beaches during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The announcement noted that a shelter-in-place order was in effect for the entire state of California and that, while outdoor exercise with proper social distancing is encouraged, large gatherings are a violation of local and state orders intended to protect the health and safety of all.

“Santa Cruz County is a popular destination for college students during this time of year,” said Sheriff Jim Hart in the released statement. “However, the County is asking everyone to adjust their routines in order to protect everyone’s health including their own, as well as the operations of our critical health care infrastructure.”

The statement mentioned the recent gatherings by college students on beaches throughout the U.S., including Florida, where a number of young people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. In Marin County over the weekend, roadways, hiking trails and beaches on Saturday were clogged with thousands of visitors as Bay Area residents sought outdoor relief from the shelter-in-place order. The overcrowding led officials to close all Marin County parks on Sunday.

County officials said they were hoping people with voluntarily comply with the stay-at-home order, violations of the health officer’s order are a misdemeanor subject to citation and even arrest.

Officials also noted that the region’s economy is heavily supported by tourism with many local services workers being severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Community Foundation Santa Cruz County has established a community fund to support public health and vulnerable people where interested parties can make donate to help.
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