SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department issued an order on Thursday that closes all county beaches to the public over the Fourth of July weekend.
“The threat of thousands coming to our community combined with our increased case counts lead us to make the decision to close our beaches,” Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said.
This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 3 through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 5.
This weekend, many tourists were expected to flock towards local shores given the fact that beaches were ordered to close down south in Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange County.
“Based on the prevalence of disease in our community and other locations,” Van Do-Reynoso said. “We did not want to see the result, the impact of not closing the beaches.”
During the closure, the public may not be on the beach for extended periods of time.
In order to enforce this new rule, it’ll be all hands on deck effort for city officials.
“They’ll be signs of telling people that the beach is closed,” Santa Barbara mayor Cathy Murillo said. “The parking the lots will be closed because we want to discourage out of town visitors from coming.”
“This is a concerted effort,” Do-Reynoso said. “A multi-jurisdictional effort enforcement.”
Visitors may only use the beach to access the ocean for water sports or active physical activity such as running and biking. People may not stop to sit or lie at the beach.
“I would like to believe that most people will respect the guidelines,” local resident Daniel Fishbein said. “I don’t know if they all will, there’s obviously going to be more enforcement.”
The order was made in response to Santa Barbara County's failure to meet California's threshold for Elevated Disease Transmission amid the COVID-19 pandemic., causing it to remain on the state's County Data Monitoring list for the past 16 days.
While some tourists are disappointed with the beaches being closed.
“I was kind of sad because I knew we were doing a trip here,” Zarina Peterson said. “So it kind of made me a little upset.”
Many locals are satisfied with the monumental decision.
“It’s a good idea because there’s a rise in COVID-19 cases,” Santa Barbara local Catarina Pallack said. “It’s 4th of July weekend, so everyone wants to have fun but it’s understandable.”
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is urging the public to avoid the 'Three Cs' throughout the holiday weekend. This includes crowds, close spaces and close contact with those not living in the same household.
The full public health order can be read here.
For more information on COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County, visit www.publichealthsbc.org or call the County Call Center at 1-833-688-5551.