SAN DIEGO — San Diego police officers shut down parking lots at local beaches and parks Sunday afternoon as crowds flocked to several areas despite a statewide stay at home order issued due to coronavirus, according to the San Diego Police Department. Parks and recreation officers also confirmed that Fiesta Island was closed after large groups were seen there. 

The city of San Diego later tweeted saying gatherings of any size are now prohibited at beaches and parks. Parking lots at all city-run beaches and parks are now closed. 

Officers began closing beach parking lots at around 12:30 p.m. when dense crowds were seen on local beaches, said Officer Dino Delimitros of the San Diego Police Department.

“Public health officials are clear that gatherings of any size can lead to the spread of COVID-19, which is why they continue to be prohibited everywhere, including at beaches and parks,” San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell said. “Local and state rules limiting groups have been in effect for days, so this should not be a surprise to anyone.”

“People can still go for a walk or run or bike ride, but they should do it while following physical distancing rules,” said San Diego Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland. “The Stay At Home order makes clear that this is not a time for parties, it’s a time to protect the public health.”

The closures and prohibiting of groups are not in effect for other cities in San Diego County. In the city of Carlsbad, News 8 found packed beaches and parks despite warnings. 

City and county officials have echoed the instructions of California Governor Gavin Newsom who announced the stay at home/shelter in place order Thursday. Cases of coronavirus/COVID-19 have grown across the state prompting the governor to take an aggressive stance and order residents to only leave their homes for essential needs.

Outdoor activities are allowed under the order, but everyone should adhere to social distancing requirements of at least six feet and limit gatherings to 10 or less.

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Supervising public information officer Jose Ysea with the City of San Diego issued the following statement Saturday about outdoor activities and the need for social distancing in public places:

“The State of California has issued a Stay-at-Home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This requires Californians to stay at home with certain exceptions, including caregiving, getting necessary health care, purchasing groceries and working to support an essential industry. San Diegans are still able to participate in outdoor activities such as walking, jogging and biking, as long as they follow the social distancing requirement of at least six feet and gatherings of no more than 10 people. Limiting exposure is the best action to take to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

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BACKGROUND: 

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing. 

Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 

  • Stay home when you are sick. 

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. 

The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask.