SAN DIEGO — Mayor Kevin Faulconer ordered Monday the closure of all city-owned beaches, parks and trails, citing a lack of physical distance among city residents over the weekend. The mayor was joined by San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit and San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell to address the matter after the city first banned gatherings of any size at city parks and beaches and closed the parking lots to city-run parks and beaches on Sunday.
The closure 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.
City officials took steps Sunday in response to crowds gathering over the weekend, and the ordinance went into effect Monday morning prior to Faulconer's announcement of a full closure.
SDPD Cheif David Nisleit spoke about how his department will address the closures and compliance.
"We need 100% compliance from the public," Nisleit 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.
City and county officials have echoed the instructions of California Governor Gavin Newsom who announced a stay at home/shelter in place order last week. 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.
"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," SDFD Chief Stowell said in a statement Sunday. "Local and state rules limiting groups have been in effect for days, so this should not be a surprise to anyone."
The city of Oceanside also closed all beach parking lots and public playgrounds.
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.
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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.