Crush at Sonoma Beaches Expected as State Closes Lots for Holiday

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It’s a rite of summer in Sonoma County.  An annual Independence Weekend pilgrimage to the county’s spectacular beaches to soak up the sun, escape the heat, and pull out the barbeque.

But this July 4th holiday weekend, with the coronavirus lurking, county officials are worried that a dangerous combination of factors are brewing that could make beaches and west county parks more hazardous than expected.

With coronavirus numbers surging in Sonoma County and the Bay Area, the state of California announced Wednesday that parking lots at state beaches along the Southern California, Bay Area and Sonoma coasts would be closed for the entire holiday weekend.

Officials fear those closures may cause a backup, sending holiday beach goers into neighborhoods to find parking, and to regional parks along the Sonoma coast in huge numbers, exacerbating already elevated overcrowding concerns.

Even worse, those traveling to the coast to escape the 90 degree plus heat expected inland may crowd into Russian River towns and onto river beaches, potentially causing health issues there.

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chair Susan Gorin says she expects overcrowding to be an issue near the coast, all weekend long.

County health officials recommend that, if at all possible, residents avoid traveling to the coast and to destinations outside the county this weekend. Instead they recommend taking part in backyard barbeques, socially distanced neighborhood events, and picnics in parks away from coastal crowds.

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