Sonoma County Closes Parks Due to Virus Concerns

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Acting on concerns by state and local officials that California parklands including those in Sonoma County were becoming dangerously crowded, the Sonoma County public health officer moved Monday to close all county parks effective Tuesday.

The action was taken after widespread reports of crowding as thousands of people seeking outdoor recreation descended on parks, beaches and other open spaces this past weekend, and filled parking lots to overflowing.

The state and county had hoped to maintain parklands as places for people to seek exercise and get outdoors under the state’s shelter-in-place orders.  But after less than a week under the restrictions, authorities grew increasingly worried that crowded conditions were making it difficult or impossible to maintain the necessary social distancing required to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The city of Santa Rosa also acted late Monday to close parks within its city limits, and the state of California closed some parking lots that serve state parks in order to reduce crowds.

Under the new, stricter orders, county officials say the public will now be limited to walks around their neighborhoods, bike rides that do not include parks, and backyard activities like gardening.

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