SONOMA COUNTY (CBS SF) – Sonoma Coast parks, trails, beaches and coastal parking lots reopened Wednesday as county Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase relaxed local restrictions on outdoor activities due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Mase’s new health order, which she announced Tuesday, allows residents to visit coastal parks and recreation areas for low-risk activities like hiking, fishing and surfing.

Park visitors will still be required to practice physical distancing and wear face coverings. Community park facilities like playgrounds, picnic areas and barbecues remain closed under the new health order.

“Visiting beaches for our physical and mental health is possible if we stay diligent about social distancing, wearing face coverings when we come near other park users and staying home if we have any COVID-19 symptoms,” Mase said. “We must continue to slow the virus’ spread to protect our vulnerable residents and our health care resources.”

The health order applies to all parks and recreation areas throughout the county, including privately owned and managed areas. The county’s previous health order, announced May 12, had only allowed coastal access to pedestrians and closed beaches from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

“We know many people have waited patiently for this day,” Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker said. “We’re committed to keeping coastal parks open this summer, and we appreciate the public’s support for health guidelines that are meant to protect us all.”

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