HALF MOON BAY (KPIX) — Two coastside towns that rely heavily on tourism are turning visitors away this holiday weekend due to an uptick in coronavirus cases across the state.
Pacifica and Half Moon Bay closed off their beaches and associated parking lots to keep people out. Parking along Highway 1 in the two cities was also prohibited.
“The best way we know how for folks to be safe right now is to not congregate in large groups,” said Pacifica mayor Deirdre Martin.
“The more alcohol goes into somebody’s system, they seem to get looser, generally speaking. And people let their guard down, take their masks off,” said Half Moon Bay mayor Adam Eisen.
Both mayors said tourism drives their economy but they hope short-term pain leads to long-term gain.
“The sooner we’re able to get the (virus) numbers to go down, more businesses will be able to open the way they were before,” Eisen said.
Even with all the beach-closed signs up and down Highway 1, some people still tried to get onto the beach but they eventually were turned away by city workers at beach entrances.
“We thought if we parked far and walked, then it would be open but it was not,” said Shachar Katz, who drove from Sunnyvale to the Half Moon Bay State Beach.
Most visitors complied but some people argued with the workers and struck out for the beach anyway.
“Some of the places where it’s not attended, people are just ignoring the signs and ignoring the fences and they’re walking through,” said Jim Davis, who lives in Half Moon Bay.
Still, beach gatherings were typically short-lived, with sheriff deputies and park rangers patrolling on ATVs telling people to leave.
“It’s kind of a bummer, I do wish that I would be able to walk on the coast but I understand where it’s coming from,” Katz said.
Authorities say most of the violators are visiting from other counties.
“We are doing our best to curtail the problem. Is it perfect? Absolutely not,” said Mayor Eisen.
Both cities said ticketing violators is a last resort and only for repeat offenders. The beaches will open again on Monday.