A substantial number of Bay Area locals sought out green spaces all over on Saturday for a much-needed break from sheltering in place. However, those hiking trails and other footpaths were soon packed tight with people, raising concerns over proper social distancing.
To quote Taylor Swift circa 2017: This is why we can't have nice things.
KPIX reported that on Saturday, beaches, parks, and hiking trails in Marin County were swarmed with nature seekers looking for respite from the indoors. Admirable and understandable, yes — but the massive influx of human beings jammed-up highways and made it hard for people to maintain proper social distancing requirements.
Now the National Park Service (NPS) has gone as far as to close most gates at Point Reyes National Seashore and reduce access to certain areas, all to help thwart the risk of visitors contacting and spreading the coronavirus.
After unprecedented visitation and to slow the spread of COVID-19, tomorrow March 22, gates will be closed at the following areas of Point Reyes NS: Limantour Access Road, Mt. Vision Road, Drakes Beach, Drakes Estero... @maringov @MarinSheriff ...more...— Point Reyes NPS (@PointReyesNPS) March 22, 2020
In addition to listed gate closures, access will be limited at the following areas in Pt. Reyes NS - At Palomarin Trailhead beyond Commonweal entrance, Pierce Point Road, Lighthouse and Chimney Rock parking. @maringov @MarinSheriff #StayLocal (bp)— Point Reyes NPS (@PointReyesNPS) March 22, 2020
"After unprecedented visitation and to slow the spread of COVID-19, tomorrow March 22, gates will be closed at the following areas of Point Reyes NS: Limantour Access Road, Mt. Vision Road, Drakes Beach, Drakes Estero [...]," reads a tweet authored by the NPS. The Marin County Sheriff Office's Twitter account took a similar tone, tweeting out that people traveling to coastlines yesterday were "NOT practicing social distancing."
**PLEASE SHARE**— Marin County Sheriff (@MarinSheriff) March 21, 2020
We understand the communities frustrations with the LARGE amount of people traveling to the Coast today and NOT practicing social distancing. We are working with the Public Health Officers to address the issue. Please stay at home!
“Marin is usually a place for recreation, but now is not the time,” Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin’s Deputy Public Health Officer, said to the local CBS affiliate. “Congregating in these popular areas makes the shelter-in-place order less effective and continues to put all of our counties at risk of COVID-19 spread.”
Yesterday as well, Marin County sheriff’s observed the wilderness area off Sky Oaks Road was overwhelmed with visitors, leaving bumper-to-bumper traffic along the nearby road once people started to drive home. And on Sunday, as the Chronicle reports, county health officials including Santora ordered all parks to motor traffic, including Muir Woods and Mount Tamalpais State Park.
Dr. Santora issued a video message explaining the closures, saying that people were still welcome to hike or bicycle to the trails available near their homes.
After similar crowding at regional parks in the East Bay over the weekend, officials there are considering some similar closures, per the Chronicle, because social distancing is not possible when you're shoulder to shoulder on a trail.
Marin County health officials are advising residents and visitors practice proper social distancing for some time amid the current pandemic, which means remaining at least six feet away from others when outside. (And don't forget to wash your hands when coming back inside.)