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    State Parks Advises Californians to Plan Ahead This Labor Day Weekend Amid COVID-19 and Wildfires – Redheaded Blackbelt

    Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park [Photo: State Parks]

    California State Parks advises Californians to plan ahead this Labor Day weekend since 46 units remain fully closed due to COVID-19 and wildfires. The department is also closing all state beaches in Monterey County and implementing full or partial vehicle access closures in Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz counties. Being prepared, abiding by the closures and following guidelines — such as wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing and avoiding gatherings with people outside the immediate household — can help further slow the spread of COVID-19.

    “With many activities limited during the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor public spaces have been essential to many Californians,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “We want to remind everyone that we all have the responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19, even in the outdoors. Your group should only include those within your immediate household. This means no large gatherings, picnics or parties. If there are too many people in your local outdoor destination to maintain the proper physical distance, please visit us at another time.”

    State Parks continues to work with local and state officials on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access at park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved.

    As with the Fourth of July weekend, temporary measures such as fully closing park units or restricting vehicular access at some state beaches will be implemented over this Labor Day weekend to reduce overcrowding. The vehicular access closures mean that no parking facilities are available to the public and parking on roadways is prohibited. Although beaches are open to local residents who can walk or bike into these public outdoor spaces—provided they practice physical distancing and abide by new visitor guidelines—congregating is not allowed. Please visit the webpage of your local outdoor destination for details.

    Below are the safety measures State Parks is implementing over the Labor Day holiday weekend (September 4-7):

    Full Closures

               Monterey County: All beaches in Monterey County will be closed.

     

    Vehicular Access Closures

    Santa Barbara County: All beach parking lots will be closed. Beaches will be open only for active recreation and aquatic activities. Beach accessories such as shade structures and lounge chairs are not permitted during the holiday weekend. State campgrounds remain open.

    Santa Cruz County: State beaches will be closed except from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Most state beach parking lots will be closed. Beach access is still available for aquatic activities outside of those hours – e.g. surfing, bodyboarding, etc. Parking availability at these state beaches will be extremely limited.

    Other State Park Units 

    State Parks will monitor visitation and physical distancing over this Labor Day weekend. Measures to modify operations, such as limited parking and closure of trails, will be taken where needed to limit overcrowding at state park units that remain open to the public. Current camping reservations at all state park units that remain open over the Labor Day weekend will be honored.

    Here are 10 tips to help reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors and to stay safe during this Labor Day weekend:

    1. Stay Local: Stay close to home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Do not travel if you are sick or someone in your household has had coronavirus in the last two weeks.
    2. Plan Ahead: Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of the local outdoor destination you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, if camping reservations can be booked and what visitor guidelines are in effect.
    3. Stay Safer at 6 feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. This means no gatherings, picnics or parties. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance.
    • Boating: Do not raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to other recreators.
    • Off-highway Vehicle Recreation: Do not ride next to others or pull up next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others. Stage 10 feet or more from each other during unloading and loading.
    1. Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering in the outdoors when you cannot stay at least 6 feet away from others who are not your immediate household members. For details, please read California Department of Public Health’s guidance for the use of face coverings. Visitors should also abide by their local county health orders.
    2. Keep Clean: Be prepared. Not all restrooms are open to the public. In some cases, restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash. Camping: If you are camping in an RV, please use the restrooms in your own unit. This will help reduce the use of the shared restrooms at campgrounds. View additional camping tips.
    3. Wear a Life Jacket: Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved and properly fitted. Several public and private entities make life jackets available to the public on a loan basis. View locations of where to borrow a life jacket.
    4. Protect Your Loved Ones: Know your limits. Swimming in a lake, ocean or river is different than swimming in a pool. If someone is in distress, seek help from a lifeguard or call 911 if one is not available. Supervise children at all times by appointing a designated “water watcher,” taking turns with other adults. Do not assume that someone is watching them. With ocean rip currents – if you get caught in one, stay calm and do not fight the current. Swim or float parallel to the shore until you are out of the current and then swim toward the shore.
    5. Minimize Campfire Impacts: Where permitted, use established fire rings, keep fires small and burn all wood and coals to ash. Make sure to put out campfires completely.
    6. Avoid Alcohol: Operating your boat or an off-highway vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more is against the law. Impaired boaters will be stopped and can be arrested even with lower BAC if the conditions are not safe. Your boat can be impounded.
    7. Share the Road: Observe posted speed limits. Stay in your lane on blind curves and do not cut corners. Do not pass on double-yellow lines and pass only when you have a clear view of oncoming traffic and it is safe to do so. Be prepared for equestrians, pedestrians, joggers, cyclists, wildlife, rocks, tree limbs, etc., on the State Park System’s roadways.

    You can find additional safety tips by visiting www.parks.ca.gov/ SafetyTips. Information on the Labor Day weekend safety measures can be found by visiting www.parks.ca.gov/ LaborDay2020.

    Please visit www.parks.ca.gov/ FlattenTheCurve for detailed information on how State Parks is mitigating the spread of COVID-19.