Sonoma County’s interim public health officer ordered the closure Monday of all parks in Sonoma County. The closure begins Tuesday amid the ongoing coronavirus public health emergency, and remains effective until further notice.
The closure applies to all parks, trails, beaches and open spaces countywide operated by city, county, state and federal agencies and jurisdictions; as well as recreational lands operated by private groups and nonprofits.
The order comes after parks, trails and beaches countywide were crowded with visitors during the initial days of the shelter-in-place orders issued by the county and state, according to a news release from Sonoma County Public Affairs.
County officials said parking areas and surrounding roads were filled with cars, and despite orders to practice social distancing even when outdoors, people gathered on trails, in parking areas, at picnic sites and in other common areas.
“Closing parks is a difficult decision, but it is the right decision at this time,” Interim Sonoma County Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said. “Allowing crowded conditions in parks is not in our best interest during this health crisis. The best action we can take is to stay close to home and limit our outdoor time to our yards and neighborhoods.”Subscribe
Sonoma County’s public health order to shelter-in-place was issued last Tuesday, and limits residents’ actions within the community to “essential needs,” such as getting groceries and meals, or going to work at an “essential” job.
The action taken Monday by Mase to close all parks is an additional order, and comes as the county’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 27. One death in the county is also attributed to coronavirus.
Public health directives thus far, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide stay-at-home order issued last Wednesday, urge the public to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus by staying home except for essential activities.
However, both orders allow for limited outdoor exercise.
“We know that spending time outside is essential to our health, but too many people using the parks makes social distancing difficult,” said Susan Gorin, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “We all need to follow the health order and stick close to home for our outdoor activities. If we change our actions now, we slow the spread of this disease sooner than later.”
Instead of traveling to parks, health authorities suggest residents engage in outdoor activities such as neighborhood walks and bike rides, playing or exercising in their front or back yards at home, and gardening.
Entrances to the county’s regional parks will be closed Tuesday. If visitors continue to park on surrounding streets and walk into parks, the county says rangers will work with local law enforcement to enforce off-site parking.
“We hoped the parks could be an essential resource, but we can’t support the type of use we saw during the first days of the shelter-in-place order,” Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker said.
“We thank everyone who tried to use the parks safely, but we need to do more to protect our community,” Whitaker said. “Let’s get through this emergency knowing we’ve done all we can to keep each other well.”
Social distancing is the practice of reducing close contact between people to slow the spread of infections or diseases. Authorities recommend keeping a 6-foot distance from people who are not members of your household. The county has provided a list of dos and don’ts for social distancing.
Answers to frequently asked questions — FAQs — about the order and the county’s emergency response can be found at SoCoEmergency.org. Residents can also call 211 to the Sonoma Information and Resource Hotline. Thank Reply (1) Share