Coronavirus Impact: Half Moon Bay residents welcome temporary closure of parking lots to state parks, beaches

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- Governor Gavin Newsom temporarily closed parking lots to 36 California state parks and beaches in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus by deterring crowds. Residents ABC7 News spoke with in Half Moon Bay were supportive of this move.

"I was kinda horrified, really," said Ellen Clark, "Of course going outside is important, but it's also important to be aware that your own actions have an affect on your community."

Clark, a Half Moon Bay resident, reacted to the large crowds gathering at Bay Area parks and beaches over the weekend as seen in a picture of a packed beach in Marin County.

These large crowds led to Newsom making an unexpected announcement Monday closing a total of 36 parking lots to state beaches and parks, with 26 of the lots in the Bay Area.

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"When you're out there and you can't even find parking at a beach, it suggests you're not going to practice social distancing, and it may suggest you may want to find a new location," said the governor in a press conference on Monday. "To make it easier for you, we're going to shut down all state parking lots. And that will go into effect immediately."

At Half Moon Bay, lots are blocked off with signage telling visitors to stay away leading to lots of u-turns just outside of the lot and confused regulars.

At nearby Cowell Ranch State Beach, the parking lot was also chained up. At Burleigh Murray Ranch Park there were more signs telling visitors to keep away.

Most locals ABC7 News spoke with agree with the governor's decision in an effort to deter crowds.

"I think it's incredibly insensitive, unsafe," said Kim Gainza. "The beaches were packed, the parking lots were packed with groups of people, not just one or two walking together."

"We want to stay safe," said Half Moon Bay resident Annette Angeles-Hagarty. "We want to keep our social distance, but how can we do that with so many people coming up over the hill."

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Though Angeles-Hagarty also wonders if closing the lots will actually keep people away.

"Well then they start parking on our streets and then it's really crowded there and there's not a lot of parking," she said.

And with no end in sight to the governor's shelter-in-place order, some are getting restless.

"People are getting tired of staying home, so they want to come out," said Mary Ann Bravo, an elderly woman recovering from cancer. "It's really a shame because we have to deal with the illness and that's already negative and then more negativity."

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