Check: Has COVID-19 Closed Your Bay Area Park?

On April 9, officials with the Marin County Sheriff's office said they were continuing to see a large number of visitors and have "issued thousands of warning citations on vehicles parked in violation of the shelter-in-place order." (Mark Fiore/KQED)

Updated Thursday, April 30

We’re all going stir crazy, so we’re all headed outside. And that’s become a problem.

To maintain social distancing, state and local leaders have taken to changing the rules for outdoor spaces — and warning that they may further curtail recreational options if COVID-19 continues to spread relatively unchecked.

For example, due to large crowds in Newport Beach this past weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced that the state would temporarily close beaches in Orange County to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

While new Bay Area shelter-in-place orders do ease some restrictions on outdoor activities, those orders don't go into effect until Sunday, May 3, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. And officials with Alameda County say it's up to local law enforcement to enforce that timing.

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On March 29, vehicle access was closed for all 280 California state parks. State campgrounds have also been closed for now. And new restrictions — as part of the extended shelter-in-place order — have closed enclosed dog parks, sport courts and skateboard parks, among other things.

Additionally, 49 public agencies, nonprofits and indigenous tribes have released guidelines for safe outdoor recreation during the shelter-in-place order. They recommend the following:

  • Go solo or with your family unit: Maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and people you do not live with. Choose less frequented parks and trails. Do not park in a crowded parking lot or use a crowded trail. Do not hold social gatherings at parks or anywhere.
  • Stay close to home and avoid crowds: Look for nature nearby, now is not the time to explore or travel far from home. Some parking lots are close, so try not to drive if possible. Visit nature virtually — there are many options online.
  • Stay safe and healthy: Do not visit parks that have been closed by local authorities. Many restrooms and other facilities have been closed, so plan ahead before you go. Shorten your visit to ensure a safe experience for everyone. Stay home if you, or one of your family members, is sick. Leave no trace — garbage pickup is limited so pack out what you pack in.

We’ve compiled information on some favorite Bay Area parklands organized by county — check here before you head out.

Remember: No matter where you go to, it's best to stay at least six feet away from people outside your household and to make sure to follow proper hygiene guidelines.

Alameda & Contra Costa Counties

At East Bay parks in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, parking lots and staging areas, as well as some parks, have been closed until May 3. Check here for a full list.

Oakland

Several parks remain open, while buildings in them are closed.

“We encourage you to go outdoors and enjoy our parks, keeping a healthy distance from other people so that we help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said on March 17.

Berkeley

All play structures, playgrounds and sport courts (basketball, tennis, volleyball) are closed. So are recreation facilities, including Live Oak Community Center and the Willard Clubhouse.

According to the city of Berkeley’s website, “large parks with enough open space to support social distancing standards remain open.” But authorities caution residents not to "arrange outings to parks with people you don't live with.”

The city skate park, pickleball courts, the sports complex on Gilman Street, pools and multiple mini parks are closed.

Marin County

Marin County announced restrictions on access to all parks beginning March 22, under an order of the county public health department. The order extends through May 3, 2020.

Officials ask that people not drive to beaches, open spaces or parks outside their neighborhoods. Residents may walk or bike to nearby preserves and parks that are open.

Current closures impact more than 18,000 acres managed by Marin County Parks. Check here to see a full list of what restrictions are in place.

Additionally, federal authorities say Muir Woods, Alcatraz and Fort Point are shut down entirely. The campgrounds and visitor center at Point Reyes are closed until further notice. Meanwhile, Drakes Beach is already restricted to protect the elephant seal colony there until the end of March. Other rotating closures will protect other seal populations throughout the park until June.

Napa County

Parks are open, but users must comply with social distancing guidance.

Officials are asking visitors to manage crowds, and to avoid Robert Louis Stevenson Park for the time being, due to parking issues.

San Francisco City and County

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has threatened to close parks if people cannot successfully social distance. But, according to officials with San Francisco Recreation and Parks, all of their "parks, trails and open spaces remain open to allow people to go outside and get some fresh air."

Park officials recommend individual activities, no group yoga and no swimming. But while parks remain open, most recreational programs and facilities — as well as playgrounds — are currently closed.

The city recently closed portions of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park and John F. Shelley Drive in John McLaren Park to vehicle access in order to support social distancing practices.

Officials have also closed Twin Peaks Road, parking lots at Ocean Beach, Beach Chalet and Marina Green — including Little Marina — and other areas to combat overcrowding. And at Yerba Buena Gardens, indoor spaces like Metreon — as well as outdoor areas like the carousel and the play circle — are closed until May 1.

While city officials are encouraging people to get out, they say that you should choose a park within walking distance if possible.

"What we're asking everyone to do during this health emergency is to limit your trip as much as possible," said Tamara Barak Aparton, spokesperson for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. "So it's fine to go outside. Good, even, to get a little exercise. And San Franciscans are very lucky because in this city, everyone lives within a 10-minute walk to a park."

Barak Aparton said park rangers are out at various sites, but are focused on education rather than enforcement.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Officials with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) have been recommending that people practice distancing and try exploring the parklands from home.

Services and operations are closed at these sites until further notice:

  • Muir Woods National Monument
  • Marin Headlands Visitor Center
  • Nike Missile site; Point Bonita Lighthouse
  • Stinson Beach parking
  • Kirby Cove and Bicentennial campgrounds
  • Alcatraz Island
  • Presidio Visitor Center
  • Fort Point National Historic Site
  • Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center
  • Lands End Lookout

Other GGNRA outdoor spaces and trails remain open to the public, for now, while parking lots and picnic tables are currently closed.

San Mateo County

San Mateo County Parks closed all parks on Friday, March 27 to slow the spread of COVID-19. All reservations have been canceled through May 3 and all events are canceled.

County officials plan to reopen many parks, beginning May 4. Check here for a full list.

As of April 9, the Midpeninsula Open Space Regional preserves will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays — effective April 11 — by order of the health officer,

As for the rest of the week, restrooms at the preserve are closed, but many trails remain open. Preserve managers recommend checking trail conditions and closures — specifically for Rancho San Antonio County Park and Preserve and the Mount Umunhum area of Sierra Azul. Windy Hill Reserve and Long Ridge Preserve are both closed throughout the week

Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County has suspended all park programming through May 3, but the parks themselves and trails are open from dawn to dusk.

The restrooms at the Santa Clara Valley Open Space regional preserves are closed until further notice, and the preserves themselves close at 5 p.m. each day.

All youth programs are currently closed in the city of San Jose, as are community centers, with the exception of senior nutrition programs. Playgrounds in the city have also been closed.

Solano County

Solano County parks are closed through at least May 17.

Sonoma County

Residents of Sonoma County will be able to walk or bike at a park in their neighborhood starting April 29, according to Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County public health officer. Parks in the area have been closed since March 23.

Mase confirmed the "soft opening" during an April 28 meeting of the county Board of Supervisors. According to the Sonoma County parks site, "Residents may access only those parks they can reach by walking or biking from their homes. Driving to a park is not allowed. Park use is limited to walking, hiking, jogging, biking and fishing."

While many parks have opened, all Sonoma County regional parks and trails remain closed. Check here for a full list.

All park visitors will still be required to maintain social distancing guidelines, and the parking lots will remain closed except to disabled residents.

This post will be updated.

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