A walk in the park will become, well, more of a walk in the park as restrictions on outdoor Sonoma County recreation ease on Wednesday, June 3.
Sonoma County’s health officer on Tuesday further eased restrictions on outdoor recreation during the Covid-19 pandemic by issuing an order that allows park agencies to reopen coastal parking lots and restore daytime visiting hours at beaches.
The order means residents can drive to Sonoma Coast parks and trails beginning Wednesday, June 3. The order replaces a May 12 order that allowed only walk-in coastal access and closed beaches between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The amended parks order allows individuals or household groups to drive to coastal parks for lower-risk recreation, including hiking, walking, running, fishing, surfing and other water sports, as well as for sunbathing and relaxing on beaches.
“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 healthcare resources.”
The order continues to require that all park visitors practice physical distancing and wear face coverings when they come within 6 feet of people who are not members of their household. Park facilities that encourage social gatherings or that feature frequently touched surfaces remain closed. These include picnic areas, barbecues, playgrounds, dog parks, outdoor gym equipment, drinking fountains and recreational campgrounds.
While the order allows driving to parks and beaches within the county, it also urges visitors to limit their time and interactions with others in public.
“We’re so pleased residents can take a break from sheltering near home by visiting the coast for exercise and fresh air,” said Susan Gorin, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “As we enjoy the coast again, let’s continue to do our part to keep each other safe: Carry a face covering, don’t socialize in groups, and avoid busy beaches if social distancing will be challenging.”
The health order applies to all parks, trails and recreation areas in Sonoma County, including those managed by private organizations.
“Reopening the beaches is a milestone for our community – we know many people have waited patiently for this day,” said Bert Whitaker, director of Sonoma County Regional Parks. “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.”