With the weather warming up and Memorial Day this weekend, residents of Santa Cruz County are petitioning local officials to reopen the still-closed beaches.
“We utilize the beach as our park, our recreation spot, everything,” said Capitola resident Chris Amsden.
The beaches are closed between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, except for people going out to surf. Outside of those hours walking and exercising is permitted, but no sunbathing or sitting.
But many locals have had enough.
“People can social distance on the beach,” said Marcella Moran of Soquel. “There’s enough space to social distance on the beach.”
Amsden started a Facebook group and an online petition Wednesday to reopen the beaches, since there are so few cases of COVID-19.
“The petition just arose from the voices of the community saying ‘What is anybody going to do about this? What can we do?’” Amsden said.
A county spokesperson said there is no timeline for when beach access will go back to normal, and there’s no specific metric or indicator they’re waiting for. She said the order has succeeded in deterring many tourists.
“To simply say the beaches are closed indefinitely to all of us doesn’t seem like a reasonable, sustainable approach to the solution,” Amsden said.
Many locals argue reopening would boost physical and mental health and lead to a smoother ride through the pandemic.