This article is a part of our news series on the COVID-19 pandemic. For information on how to prevent the spread of the virus, click here.
The cities of Oceanside and Coronado announced the closures of all public beaches and water-based activities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak on Friday, April 3. The two coastal communities were the last in San Diego County to shut down their beaches in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus and encourage social distancing.
According to the City of Oceanside’s Facebook page, the local government “determined that a full beach closure is necessary” to ensure compliance with an April 3 addendum to a San Diego County health order that closed parking lots near beaches and parks. The Strand was also ordered to be closed off for walking and driving except for local residents.
In Coronado, the City Council’s decision to shutter its beaches entirely was a reversal of its March 31 decision to allow beaches to remain open on weekdays. In an interview with KUSI, Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey similarly said that the updated public health orders forced the City Council to reconsider.
“We decided that it was [in the City of Coronado’s] best interest to shut down the beaches as well,” Bailey said. “As of this time, we are actually monitoring the beach [and] making sure there is proper signage out there so the public … [is] informed.”
The cities of San Diego, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Solana Beach, and Encinitas had earlier announced the closures of their public beaches on March 23 in response to reports of public gatherings over the weekend. These measures were preceded by a March 16 order from San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer that limited public gatherings and banned in-house dining at restaurants.
“These are not actions we are taking lightly, but gatherings can spread this dangerous virus. The actions of a few can cost the lives of many,” Faulconer said in a press release. “People can still go outdoors, but please go outdoors close to home. This is about protecting each other.”
Matthew Ward, a Carlsbad resident and frequent surfer, expressed in an interview with The UCSD Guardian that he was frustrated by the beach closures.
“All I want to do is surf and I can’t even do that. I don’t understand why I can’t when there are people walking on the beach,” Ward said. “When I surf, I go out and come back in. I don’t stay out there or near other people, so I don’t know what the big deal is.”
At the time of publication, there have been over 1,750 confirmed coronavirus cases in San Diego County. Beaches are expected to remain closed until the end of the public health emergency, and those who disobey the rules can be fined up to $1,000 and charged with a misdemeanor.
Artwork by Susan Sun for the UCSD Guardian.