SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Cruz County has been amongst the best in flattening the curve of the spread of COVID-19 with only 76 confirmed cases and one death as of April 8, but they are announcing new restrictions.
"What we want is for our own community members to stay at home and we don't want people from other counties coming into Santa Cruz County," Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said.
Strong words from Sheriff Hart following a strong order from the Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newell.
Effective April 9 at midnight, all county beaches and parks will be closed to reduce the threat of the novel coronavirus.
"What we're asking is for people to stop the activities that we are doing," Sheriff Hart said. "Stop surfing, stop grouping up and they're going to have to stop going to the parks. We're all making sacrifices right now and this is just a temporary thing. But in order to keep our community members safe, some people who want to be surfing right now are going to have to stop."
The sheriff's department has already issued more than 80 citations for not following California shelter-in-place orders, and fines for breaking the new ruling will total up to $1,000.
People can still go for walks in neighborhoods, but bans include public spaces such as skate parks, dog parks, and other recreational areas, places usually crowded.
The response from residents was mixed.
Some were upset their privileges are taken away, others understood the attempt to flatten the curve.
They all had hopes that the ban doesn't last too long.
"I hope not, but they've got to do whatever they've got to do," Capitola resident Anne Gatlin said. "The people that aren't taking it seriously are the reason they have the new restrictions. Hopefully, everyone behaves so we can still enjoy the privilege of being here with the fresh air and the ocean."
The order is set to end on April 15 in an attempt to keep people away during spring break.
But Chief Hart says life will go back to normal when officials believe it's safe to do so.
"I don't like giving people false hope," Sheriff Hart said. "I think we're in the long-haul for this thing, personally."
You can read the entire public health order from Santa Cruz County here.
Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here
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