While Ventura County beaches, parks and trails are open to the public this weekend amidst a spring heat wave, officials have asked residents not to meet as a group or to plan stays extended.
In addition, they asked people not to visit Los Angeles County, where beaches remain closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Please, please, please do not drive from outside the area, especially outside the county”, to visit the beaches of Ventura County, a Oxnard chief of police Scott Whitney said on Friday. “I promise you, if you put your car away and think you are going to have a long day at the beach in our county, you will be disappointed because we will fire you. “
Whitney said officers continue to educate residents on how to practice social distancing when they are outside, but have issued quotes to people who do not follow the county order to “stay well at home “.
He said bathers will not be allowed to visit for a long time and those who refuse to leave will be tagged or arrested.
“This is the last thing we want to do, but we have to guarantee security.” said the chief during the county coronavirus briefing.
As of Friday, the county had 476 cases of coronavirus and 16 deaths, according to Rigoberto Vargas, director of public health for the county.
He said the county and cities have eased outside restrictions to allow residents to engage in physical activity with their immediate family unit, but encouraged people to stay safe.
“Our numbers look good and we want those numbers to keep going down and the only way to do that is to keep practicing social distancing,” said Vargas.
The three beaches managed by the county, as well as all the beaches controlled by the cities of the coastal zone are partially open.
Amenities on local beaches and parks, including bathrooms, playgrounds, parking lots and campgrounds, remain closed to discourage long stays.
Ventura City Council voted on Monday to provide restricted access to parks, beaches, boardwalk and pier, “to support the residents’ physical and mental health while limiting non-essential activities” said officials.
Residents are allowed to walk, walk, jog or bike as long as they don’t linger in any place and stay away from others.
The Ventura police department can order the closure of an area for 24 hours if the parks or beaches are overcrowded, depending on the city.
After a third closure, the city’s beaches will be closed until the pandemic ends, Ventura chief Darin Schindler said on Friday.
“We don’t want to have to do it, we hope the public will monitor itself,” he said.
Officials are aware that warm temperatures and the closure of nearby beaches could draw crowds over the weekend, and said the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office will step up patrols to ensure compliance.
“Failure to comply with these soft close guidelines may result in the closure of our county managed beaches for the foreseeable future,” said Mark Sandoval, director of the county port department.
Despite posters of limited beach access at one of the county’s beaches visited by Sandoval on Friday, the rules are “downright ignored,” he said.
“I beg you, go out, enjoy the beaches, but actively enjoy the beaches,” said Sandoval.
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