Beaches, parks, boardwalks and other open spaces in San Diego County and throughout California were ordered to close Monday to restrict unsafe gatherings prohibited by state and local laws.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer shut down city beaches, parks, boardwalks, lakes and trails in response to several illegal gatherings reported over the weekend, as did the city of Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar.
The Port of San Diego followed Tuesday by closing down parks, beaches, parking lots, piers, and boat launches around San Diego Bay.
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Governor Gavin Newsom also closed parking lots at state beaches and parks to discourage crowds.
Last weekend was the first to follow Newsom's statewide stay-at-home order and the county's latest Public Health Order, both of which implemented strong social distancing policies in order to minimize contact and stop the spread of COVID-19.
The county's order prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people and led to the closure of gyms and recreation centers, among other non-essential businesses.
Californians were encouraged to get outside amid the orders while heeding social distancing guidelines responsibly, but San Diego County health officials said some weren't following guidelines close enough.
"Before we wanted people to have the opportunity of walking on the beach while maintaining social distancing. It looks like people are not able to do that so we will be issuing an amendment to our public order that if jurisdictions are not able to enforce social gathering, we will close beaches. And that amendment to our health order will be issued later today [Monday]," said County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten.
Elsewhere, local officials had already closed parking at the state's best-known beaches in Malibu, Santa Monica, Los Angeles and San Francisco in effort to curb crowds. Parks in scenic Marin County, north of San Francisco, were closed and access was restricted to many of the trails in the Santa Monica Mountains that run through Los Angeles County.
“Normally that would light up my heart to see tens of thousands of people congregating down in Malibu and other parts of our beautiful state,” he said. “One cannot condemn that, but one can criticize it. We need to practice common sense and socially distance.”
San Diego's first move in response to reports of illegal gatherings came Sunday when it moved to close down parking lots at beaches and parks.
“People can still go for a walk or run or bike ride, but they should do it while following physical distancing rules,” SDFD Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland said Sunday. “The Stay-at-Home order makes clear that this is not a time for parties, it’s a time to protect the public health.”
One day later at a news conference, Mayor Faulconer said the "actions of a few" forced him to close all city beaches, parks, lakes, boat ramps, trails, and boardwalks. Those closures, Faulconer said, would help protect the public and the first responders they rely on.
"We need to spend time looking out after each other, not groups of people who aren't taking this as serious as they should," Faulconer said.
The mayor announced the first firefighter serving the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department had tested positive for COVID-19, and said more first responders are awaiting test results.
Faulconer said at this time it is "irresponsible" to congregate, and said some weekend beachgoers unfairly increased others' risk -- including first responders -- of contracting the disease.
"We are still encouraging people to go outdoors, but go outdoors close to home. It’s time to protect each other," he said.
Officers closed Fiesta Island Sunday after large crowds of people were spotted gathering there.
More information on the recent state order, including what’s closed, what’s open and which industries are exempt by the state can be found on the California COVID-19 response website.