July 4th: What's allowed and what's not in California

ByAlix Martichoux KGO logo
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Gunshots or fireworks: How to tell the difference
Was that fireworks or gunshots? Here's what you need to know to tell the difference.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Fourth of July in California, like pretty much everything else in 2020, is going to look very different this year.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom orders indoor restaurants, wineries, movie theaters to close in most of CA

I don't know if you've heard, but there's this thing called the coronavirus and it's canceling a lot of people's plans. Since we're not supposed to congregate in big groups, what exactly can you do on the Fourth of July holiday in California?

Here's what allowed and what's not:


Professional: Most professional fireworks shows are canceled to discourage mass gatherings amid COVID-19. A few Bay Area cities have virtual fireworks shows planned. See more info here.

Amateur: Some cities allow for the sale and use of "safe and sane" fireworks during the week of Fourth of July, while others ban them altogether. In the Bay Area, fireworks are allowed in: Dublin, Newark, Union City, Gilroy, Pacifica, San Bruno, Dixon, Rio Vista, Suisun City, Cloverdale, Rohnert Park and Sebastopol. (Full list of cities in California can be found here.)

Even in those cities, only fireworks labeled "safe and sane" are legal. According to CalFire, the following types of fireworks are illegal everywhere in the state:

  • Sky rockets
  • Bottle rockets
  • Roman candles
  • Aerial shells
  • Firecrackers
  • Other fireworks that explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner

Remember, even legal fireworks can pose fire dangers and can injure people.

VIDEO: Gunshots or fireworks: Here's how to tell the difference

Was that fireworks or gunshots? Here's what you need to know to tell the difference.


In-person parades are a big no-no this year. A few Bay Area cities are still hosting virtual parades. We're keeping track here.

Parties and barbecues

Want to throw a party with your roommates, spouse or children? Go right on ahead - if you live together.

Things get dicey if you start to mingle with those outside your household. When people who haven't been living together mix, oftentimes without social distancing and proper face coverings, there's an increased risk of exposure. Several COVID-19 outbreaks have been traced back to large gatherings of extended family around Mother's Day, Memorial Day, graduations and Father's Day.

"We've got Fourth of July weekend coming up," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference Tuesday. "One of the areas of biggest concern as it relates to the spread of COVID-19 in the state remains family gatherings, not just bars, not just out in the streets where people are protesting. It's specifically family gatherings, where extended and immediate family members begin to mix, and they take down their guard."

On Thursday, the governor emphasized Californians should not gather with people they don't live with.

RELATED: Bay Area Fourth of July Fireworks and Events 2020


If you're in the mood for a social distance picnic, most parks around the Bay Area have reopened. Some may still have picnic tables and barbecues roped off, but the grass is all yours. Counties have also been slowly reopening more and more hiking trails. We've also put together a list of 13 wide Bay Area hiking paths that make it easier to social distance.


Several Southern California counties are shutting down all beaches ahead of Fourth of July weekend. In the Bay Area and Santa Cruz County, only state beaches are shutting down their parking lots.

Even at other beaches, parking may still be limited and don't be surprised if the crowds come out. Perhaps you can convince yourself sprinklers or a kiddie pool make a good substitute?

While the state isn't closing the beaches themselves, the following state beach parking facilities will be closed:

Marin County

  • Mount Tamalpais State Park - CLOSED
  • Tomales Bay State Park - CLOSED

Monterey County

  • Fort Ord Dunes State Park - CLOSED
  • Monterey State Historic Park - CLOSED
  • Zmudowski State Beach - CLOSED

Orange County

  • Bolsa Chica State Beach - CLOSED
  • Corona del Mar State Beach - CLOSED
  • Crystal Cove State Park - CLOSED
  • Doheny State Beach - CLOSED
  • Huntington State Beach - CLOSED
  • San Clemente State Beach - CLOSED

San Diego County

  • Cardiff State Beach - CLOSED
  • Carlsbad State Beach - CLOSED
  • Leucadia State Beach - CLOSED
  • Moonlight State Beach - CLOSED
  • Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area - CLOSED
  • San Elijo State Beach - CLOSED
  • San Onofre State Beach - CLOSED
  • Silver Strand State Beach - CLOSED
  • South Carlsbad State Beach - CLOSED
  • Torrey Pines State Beach - CLOSED

San Francisco

  • Candlestick Point State Recreation Area - CLOSED

San Mateo County

  • Bean Hollow State Beach - CLOSED
  • Gray Whale Cove State Beach - CLOSED
  • Half Moon Bay State Beach - CLOSED
  • Montara State Beach - CLOSED
  • Pacifica State Beach - CLOSED
  • Pescadero State Beach - CLOSED
  • Pomponio State Beach - CLOSED
  • San Gregorio State Beach - CLOSED
  • Thorton State Beach - CLOSED

Santa Barbara County

  • Carpinteria State Beach - CLOSED
  • El Capitan State Beach - CLOSED
  • Point Sal State Beach - CLOSED
  • Refugio State Beach - CLOSED

Santa Cruz County

  • Natural Bridges State Beach - CLOSED
  • Twin Lakes State Beach - CLOSED
  • Seacliff State Beach - CLOSED
  • Manresa State Beach - CLOSED
  • Sunset State Beach - CLOSED

Sonoma County

  • Sonoma Coast State Beach - CLOSED

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