Peninsula cities split on whether to close beaches Labor Day weekend amid COVID-19

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- If you want to go to the beach this holiday weekend, do not head to Pacifica, Santa Cruz or Monterey. In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, those cities decided to close the beaches to keep crowds away. Many residents say this makes them feel safer.

"Of course it is a good idea," said Pacifica resident Connie, who did not want to give her last name. "There are always a few people who ruin it for everyone else. If that's what it takes to keep the population safe I understand it. As a surfer, it is kind of a bummer but we completely understand. We want everyone to be safe. The safer we are, the sooner this can be over and we can move on with our lives."

But Half Moon Bay's beaches will be open. The city council voted unanimously not to close them Labor Day weekend.

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"I'm concerned. But I also don't want to be a town that considers itself elitists that keeps people away from the beaches," Mayor Adam Eisen explained Wednesday morning.

The mayor said it is a complicated issue and that city officials are walking a tightrope, trying to balance the needs of cooped up citizens and trying to keep them safe.

"Mental health is very big. Being outside, being able to run, being able to smell the ocean air, being out with nature, it revives your soul," the mayor said.

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The mayor said they also wanted to support local businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. He said there are also a lot of agencies involved in shutting down beaches, pointing out most of the beaches in Half Moon Bay are state beaches.

"The closing of them requires multi-agency jurisdiction that oversees the area and we couldn't get full alignment together with how everything would be patrolled and enforcement," he said.

Activist Brent Turner couldn't believe the decision. He pushed for the council to close the beaches.
"I was mortified. I can't even tell you how saddened I am," Turner said.

He hopes the Bay Area will still stay away.

"Usually we're loving the crowds and appreciating them being here. But in the midst of a pandemic when you have such a horrible virus it's best to err on the side of caution and that's how we feel this weekend should be treated," Turner said.

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The mayor is hoping there can be a balance between safety and recreation.

"It was a very difficult decision and I mean as long as people adhere to our social distancing guideline hopefully everything will go well," he said.

He is asking everyone to wear a mask not only at the beach but also when visiting stores and restaurants in town.

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