California State Parks is encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to plan properly and recreate responsibly this Memorial Day weekend and over the summer as the state continues trying to slow the spread of COVID-19.
At this time, California residents are advised not to travel for their vacations, but instead stay local.
SLO County has already closed its county-operated parks to non-county residents in an effort to slow tourism and decrease the community's exposure to the virus.
State residents are also still encouraged to stay six feet apart at all times and not to gather in groups or linger at locations for too long.
State Parks wants to also advise the public on its new visitor guidelines in hopes of keeping everyone safe from COVID-19:
- Plan Ahead – With 280 park units in the state park system, visitors are advised to visit the webpage of their local outdoor destination before leaving home to find out if it is open, what new visitor guidelines are in effect and if parking is available.
- Stay Local – Stay close to home. Parking is temporarily very limited or non-existent at park units across the state. Walk or bike to parks in your local neighborhood. Do not take road trips to parks and beaches or to neighboring states.
- Leave it at Home – The use of coolers, umbrellas, shade tents, BBQs or chairs is not allowed in many park units. Plan ahead.
- Keep it Moving – Passive recreation (lounging, picnics, sunbathing, etc.) is being restricted where physical distance is a challenge. In those areas, only active recreation (walking, running, biking, boating, kayaking, off-highway riding, etc.) will be allowed. Also, observe one-way trails where they are in place.
- Stay Safer at 6ft – No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance.
- Keep Clean – Be prepared. Not all restrooms are open to the public. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash.
California State Parks has also created a fun video illustrating how and when their new visitor guidelines should be implemented. The video can be viewed on their YouTube page here.
State Parks said that indoor facilities and guided tours are still closed to the public.
And while State Park Peace Officers have the authority to hand out citations, State Parks said they hope visitors understand the importance of following the new guidelines themselves. Peace Officers will be monitoring to ensure everyone is enjoying themselves safely.
For up-to-date information on State Parks' response to COVID-19, visit their website here.
For those needing information on how to hike, boat or ride their bike safely while at a park, visit www.parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.