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California

San Diego County eases restrictions on ocean access, mandates face coverings

OB Pt.Loma beaches closed
A lone surfer March 24 at Ocean Beach.
(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego County officials Friday announced that restrictions limiting ocean access will be lifted, paving the way for cities across the region to reopen beaches as soon as Monday.

The decision was made as the county logged another 183 cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths. The higher case total was partly attributed to a higher number of tests conducted the day before. Officials said 3,122 tests were conducted Thursday — 867 more than the day before.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher stressed that individual jurisdictions will need to decide for themselves when and how they open their beaches. Cities can also choose to be more restrictive.

“We certainly understand the special importance the ocean has to our community, to our society, to our way of life,” Fletcher said. “It’s where we swim, surf and recreate. The ocean is a symbol of who we are as San Diegans, and it’s appropriate at this point that we open limited access to the ocean.”

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The change to the region’s public health order goes into effect Monday and reopens the ocean to swimming, surfing, kayaking and paddleboarding. The decision does not apply to state beaches, and parking lots will remain closed.

Group activities and boating will remain banned. While residents can walk and run along the beach, they cannot sit or lie down.

“We believe that we can take this step and this action in a way that does not compromise our efforts to protect public health, but we need the public’s help to ensure compliance,” Fletcher said.

Officials are also mandating that residents who leave their homes wear a face covering if they are going to be within six feet of an individual who is not a housemate.

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“We believe this is going to be a part of life in the new normal,” Fletcher said. “Until such time that we have a vaccine or a widely available therapeutic drug, there are going to be parts of life that are going to change. And getting used to having a face covering when you leave your house — that’s going to be a part of the change.”

That change goes into effect May 1, but county officials are encouraging residents to comply with it immediately.

Winkley writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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