beaches closed

In case anyone missed the multiple announcements making the rounds, the beaches of the Monterey Bay and the rest of Monterey County are essentially closed for Labor Day weekend beginning today, Friday, unless you're taking a dip in the ocean or enjoying water sports.

For the first time, state and local governments from Santa Cruz to Big Sur cooperated in planning a joint closure of beaches to reduce overcrowding and help slow the spread of Covid-19. They made the announcement on Aug. 20, in hopes the word would spread to visitors from out of town before the holiday weekend. 

The Pebble Beach Company announced on Sept. 1 that it was also a part of the closures, including 17-Mile Drive. Only residents, guests and golf club members are allowed into the area.

On Tuesday, the San Jose Mercury News published a story asking if closing beaches was really worth it to stop the spread of the virus. Epidemiologists quoted said no, noting that the risk of spread outdoors is very low. The bigger worry was people gathering with friends and family who live in different households, especially during the predicted heatwave, pushing them indoors where air conditioning is used.

What the story didn't mention were the problems that come when large numbers of visitors come into coastal towns, especially if they don't follow face covering orders and physical distancing protocols. Other serious issues experienced during the pandemic include excessive amounts of trash and harm to plants and wildlife. 

Other closures of note: Toro Park, closed indefinitely due to recent wildfires; Jacks Peak closed until further notice; all U.S. Forest Service campgrounds in Monterey County temporarily closed. With the Dolan Fire in Big Sur, a drive down Highway 1 is not a good idea.

What outdoor spaces are open? Palo Corona Regional Park, Garland Ranch Regional Park and Fort Ord National Monument. The city of Monterey in its newsletter yesterday suggested Lower Presidio Park as a place to visit this weekend. Other city parks are open, but check websites for the latest. Under shelter-in-place rules, large gatherings and coming into close contact with others from outside your household are not allowed. Masks are a must.

Also open (with fire restrictions) are Lake San Antonio and Lake Nacimiento, although those areas are predicted to hit 112 degrees and 111 degrees respectively, on Sunday. Temperatures will be over 100 in South County from today until possibly Tuesday.

Some state beaches north of Santa Cruz County are scheduled to be open this weekend.

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