SANTA CRUZ (KPIX 5) — Public health officials worry summer-like weekend weather will pose a serious challenge to the emergency shelter-in-place order that has helped to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in California.
“Beaches, if you have an area to yourself and it’s six feet apart, then I think they should be open. People need to get out because they’re going to go crazy being at home,” said Claire Chislett.
Chislett was visiting Davenport on Santa Cruz County’s North Coast with her family for some exercise and fresh air. Her mother Jennifer, a nurse, said she was ready to pull the plug on the outing if the beaches were overcrowded.
“If people are being appropriate — wearing their masks and keeping their distance — maybe we’ll take a little stroll on the beach. I’m not sure I would camp out for the day,” said Jennifer.
State and local governments have discouraged people from gathering in large groups at beaches and popular walking and hiking trails with varying degrees of success.
On Santa Cruz County’s North Coast, many state beach parking lots remain closed. But in many spots, beach goers have shoehorned their cars onto the narrow shoulder of the road across the street.
“It’s good to see people out getting exercise. I think the shelter in place has made us all feel like we need to get out and move,” said Tom Mohr. Mohr takes daily walks with his wife and three children along the Guadalupe River Trail in Santa Clara.
Increasingly, he says he needs to avoid the peak early-morning and late-afternoon times to avoid the crowds.
“When we see that people have been sitting around too long or going a little stir crazy bouncing off the walls, it’s time to get outside,” explained Mohr.
There was a visible law enforcement presence along the coast, with multiple officers on patrol. It is unclear if anyone was ticketed or fined, but the sheer numbers may have made that difficult.
There is concern that lifting the shelter-in-place order will cause a resurgence of the virus. But several people said they would like to see the restrictions relaxed soon.
“I think we should start opening things up. It’s been awhile. It’s flattening out it seems from the numbers. And I think people have become from this more responsible,” said Danny Veneklasen.