Half Moon Bay is joining the town of Pacifica in closing down beaches ahead of the 4th of July weekend in an attempt to clamp down on activities that could spread COVID-19.
The coastal community is closing beaches, beach parking lots and a portion of the Coastal Trail between Seymour Bridge and Kelly Avenue to deter crowds from mingling together. The closures will begin Friday morning and last through Monday at 9 a.m.
Half Moon Bay Mayor Adam Eisen, who was among beach goers grabbing a last beach before the closures, said the temporary shutdown is aimed at discouraging families and groups from gathering on the beaches and letting down their guard, or in some cases, masks.
"As those people meet and sometimes alcohol gets involved," Eisen said, "we've noticed when people consume alcohol, masks become less prevalent."
The decision comes on top of Governor Gavin Newsom's decision earlier in the week to close state beach parking lots to stop people from crowding the areas. The governor cited family gatherings as major spreaders of the virus.
Eisen said police, sheriffs and city staff would be out on the beaches throughout the weekend to enforce the closures. He said visitors defying the order will first get a warning then a fine.
"If we have to and people do not leave the beach," he said, "we are absolutely going to ticket them."
Some beach visitors on Thursday criticized the city's decision to close the beaches during Independence weekend -- which they described a contradiction.
"I think we're all adults and I think we know how to social distance," said Heather Penny sitting in a folding chair. "If you look down the beach, I think we're all doing a pretty good job managing ourselves."
Others supported the decision to close down, saying it was better to be cautious.
"I think that the beaches will probably get pretty crowded," said Jackie Rivas of Palo Alto. "So to slow the spread they should shut down the beaches."
Eisen acknowledged the closures may hurt some businesses who are already struggling on the long recovery from stay-at-home orders.
But some businesses like The Barn restaurant supported the closure.
Owner Jill Klein said the area was swamped with visitors during the Memorial Day weekend -- with people urinating on the restaurant property and leaving garbage everywhere.
"If people are going to come they need to be respectful," Klein said,"and they need to come here and know that there aren't enough services for all the people that are coming."