Unlike some other coastal towns up and down the state, Santa Cruz County has yet to close the beaches. But with visitors continuing to violate the shelter in place order, the sheriff’s office has created the Beaches and Parks Contact Team to enforce social distancing rules.
“We have no plans to shut down the beaches but we are having an issue with people gathering,” says county spokesperson Jason Hoppin. “We do have a lot of spaces for recreation out here; we have more state parks than any other county despite our small size and we have a large coastal area. So we want to encourage recreation and health, but we want to discourage leisure activities.”
That holds especially true for people coming to Santa Cruz from other counties, something Hoppin says continues to be a problem.
“If you’re in Marin county there are plenty of recreation opportunities locally. If you’re in Santa Clara County there are plenty of recreation opportunities locally. I’m sorry, but coming to Santa Cruz to go surfing is not essential for people that live in other counties.”
The beaches are staying open so residents can continue to use them for essential activities, such as exercise or walking the dog provided they stay at least six to ten feet apart from anyone they do not live with.
“The only means we have to fight this disease is social means and physical distancing,” says Hoppin.
Deputies will walk up and down local beaches and break up any groups they see congregating there to enforce the shelter order. Violators may be cited and fined.