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San Luis Obispo County makes changes to limit tourism in an effort to protect community from COVID-19

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Dave Alley / KEYT

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - As one of the busiest travel weekends of the year approaches, San Luis Obispo has decided to make some changes in an attempt to limit tourism to the region. This is being done to help protect the community from COVID-19 exposure.

Changes include limiting lodging in hotels and other short-term occupancy businesses as well as limiting campground use to residents only.

“Leisure travel should not take place during a pandemic. Increases in new COVID-19 infections further delays our ability to adapt and reopen together under the State’s Resilience Roadmap,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “We are taking preventative measures as a starting point to protect public health as we begin a gradual reopening all across the state.”

SLO County said the rate of COVID-19 infection in the neighboring counties has been higher than SLO's. Neighboring counties also have a higher positive case per capita than SLO County with the exception of Monterey County.

San Luis Obispo County currently has 85 positive cases per 100,000 residents which is significantly less than neighboring Kings, Tulare and
Santa Barbara Counties, all of which have positive cases per 100,000 in the triple digits.

The first change involves the limiting of County-operated campgrounds to SLO County residents only. This impacts campgrounds at Lopez Lake, Santa Margarita Lake, and Oceano Memorial Park and will take effect starting Monday, May 18.

County Emergency Services Director Wade Horton and Dr. Borenstein also announced an Emergency Order limiting hotel and short-term lodging occupancy rates to no more than 50 percent. These visitors can also only stay for essential travel and not recreational so as to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The Emergency Order takes effect at 12 a.m. on Sunday, May 17. The County will review it every 14 days to evaluate the need to continue the order.

“Now is not the time to visit,” Horton said. “We look forward to when we are once again able to welcome visitors but right now, we are focused on meeting State criteria to gradually open our community. Tourism puts that at risk.”

To read the full order and for more information on COVID-19 in SLO County, you can visit

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.


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