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Mayor Faulconer Closes All City Beaches, Parks and Trails

The parking lot at La Jolla shores is closed following orders from the city o...

Photo by Bennett Lacy

Above: The parking lot at La Jolla shores is closed following orders from the city of San Diego in order to prevent spread of COVID-19, March 22, 2020.

UPDATE: 6:37 a.m., March 24

Mayor Kevin Faulconer Monday ordered the closure of all city-owned beaches, parks and trails, and said violators could face fines and jail time, as officials announced three dozen new novel coronavirus cases.

Citing a lack of physical distance among city residents in public spaces over the weekend, Faulconer said the step was not one the city took lightly.

"Things are changing by the day. We have to be flexible, but we have to be firm," he said. "This weekend we closed city-owned parking lots at beaches and parks. Now I am calling on the city to close all parks, beaches, boardwalks, bays and trails until further notice."

He said that people should still get outside for exercise, but stay in their neighborhoods and maintain physical distance of 6 feet from people who are not part of their household.

"The actions of a few can take the lives of many," Faulconer said. "The time for education has ended. The time for enforcement is here."

His announcement came not long after San Diego County health officials said that if cities cannot maintain safe social distancing procedures at their parks and beaches, the county will close them to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

"We encourage outdoor exercise as long as people maintain 6 feet of social distancing," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "It looks like people are not able to do that."

The county is amending its previous public health order to include the authority to close beaches and parks if municipalities are unable or unwilling to enforce the 6 feet of social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

The city of Oceanside closed all beach parking lots and public playgrounds on Monday, and the city of Carlsbad closed all beaches, parks and trails.

Del Mar and Solana Beach also closed their beaches, trails and most parks in those cities on Monday.

Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland said people can still walk, run or ride a bike, as long as they abide by social distancing rules, which advise people to stay 6 feet away from others.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore called Monday afternoon on residents to strictly heed state and local stay-at-home and social-distancing mandates issued last week as key strategies in reducing the dire public-health threats posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is imperative we all comply with these orders," Gore said in a prepared statement. "They were not created to follow when convenient. Not following these orders puts everyone's lives at risk."

Nisleit had a similar message.

"We need 100% compliance from the public," the police chief said. "Officers will be continuing education, but moving to enforcement. Working together we will defeat this virus."

He said there are two orders that officers can enforce -- the governor's stay-at-home order and a local ordinance pertaining to emergency closures. Both could result in a misdemeanor citation and leave violators facing up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months "confinement" or both, the chief said.

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