SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Beaches in Santa Cruz County will reopen starting at midnight Thursday night, even as the county's coronavirus continue to rise.
"We had hoped to continue the beach closure until after Fourth of July weekend, but it's become impossible for law enforcement to continue to enforce that closure," said Santa Cruz County health officer Dr. Gail Newel. "People are not willing to be governed anymore in that regard."
COVID-19 RISK CALCULATOR: Quiz yourself on the safest, most dangerous things you can do as California reopens
Beaches have been closed to sunbathers and picnickers for weeks in Santa Cruz, with a "keep it moving" policy to discourage congregating. That will no longer be the case starting Friday morning.
Starting July 6, the county's shelter-in-place order will expire, bringing Santa Cruz County fully in line with the state's reopening timeline.
However, a stricter local mask order is being put in place. Face coverings for children over the age of 2 are now required, no longer optional.
Over the weekend, the county saw 28 new COVID-19 cases. The increase was "by far the greatest increase that we've had to date in our county," said Newel. "We actually had to redesign our epidemiological graph on the data dashboard to accommodate numbers of that size."
INTERACTIVE: Here's the reopening status of every Bay Area county
"This is not a surprise. This is exactly what we've been expecting when reopening, with the political protests and our community memorials and vigils," said Newel.
Most known outbreaks in the county have been traced back to family gatherings, especially around Mother's Day, Memorial Day and graduations, Newel added.
"Almost all COVID-19 transmission in our community ... are when people are within 6 feet of each other for a prolonged period of time, not wearing face coverings."
Santa Cruz County now has 106 active cases, up from around 40 two weeks ago, Newel said.
There have 337 total COVID-19 cases county-wide and three deaths.
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- COVID-19 Help: Comprehensive list of resources, information
- When will the San Francisco Bay Area reopen? Track progress on 6 key metrics to reopening here
- Everything we know about CA businesses opening and what comes next
- Life after COVID-19: Here's what restaurants, gyms will look like
- Here's everything allowed to open in CA (and what we're still waiting on)
- WATCH LIVE: Daily briefings from CA, Bay Area officials
- INTERACTIVE TIMELINE: How close was CA to becoming a NY-level crisis?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- Everything you need to know about the Bay Area's shelter-in-place order
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area/
- List: Where can I get tested for COVID-19 in the Bay Area?
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during novel coronavirus pandemic
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- WATCH: 'Race & Coronavirus: A Bay Area Conversation' virtual town hall about COVID-19 impact on Asian American community
- WATCH: 'Race & Coronavirus: A Bay Area Conversation' virtual town hall about COVID-19 impact on African American community
- WATCH: 'Race & Coronavirus: A Bay Area Conversation' virtual town hall about COVID-19 impact on Latino community
- WATCH: 'Your Mental Health: A Bay Area Conversation' virtual town hall addressing COVID-19 impact on mental health
- Symptoms, prevention, and how to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak in the US
- List of stores, companies closing due to coronavirus pandemic
- Here's a look at some of history's worst pandemics that have killed millions