The word is out. San Diego County has the only open beaches in the region, and already thousands of visitors have come our way leading up to the Fourth of July weekend.
“We took advantage of the fact that San Diego was open and Orange county had closed just recently, so we’re lucky enough this beautiful area was available,” said Amy Vollmar of Murrieta.
Vollmar and her family changed vacation plans to visit their Oceanside time-share condo when she learned San Diego County beaches were staying open.
But while she’s taking advantage of the opportunity to visit the beach, she’s also mindful of COVID-19 concerns brought on by big crowds.
“My fear is people won’t keep the social distancing, and obviously it’s spreading everywhere,” said Vollmer.
By mid-day on Thursday crowds packed the area around the Oceanside Pier. Visitors walked past signs that reminded people that face coverings are required and to maintain six feet distancing.
“I know all of the places we’ve stayed have been very cognizant of warning people and making sure that people know that they have to wear masks,” said Theresa Ramirez of Hemet.
Meanwhile, parking lots in the area were packed. But Oceanside City officials say most lots west of the train tracks will be closed beginning at 8 a.m. Friday.
Nearby business owners are grateful they’re open for the holiday weekend, but mindful big crowds could lead to more positive COVID cases and trigger eventual closures.
“I definitely think we’ll see the roller coaster of closures. I would expect after this weekend to possibly see Oceanside beaches close if they have huge crowds come in,” said Dave Robinson of Orfila Vineyards.
As for projected crowd sizes, the San Diego Tourism Authority expects to see fewer people, but is not making an official projection. Traditionally visitors come mostly from California, Arizona and Nevada during July.
With so many flocking to San Diego County beaches for the July 4th holiday, some wonder why the county wouldn't close them off for the weekend, as other counties have done.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county isn't as concerned about the disease spreading in outdoor settings as it is about the disease spreading in indoor settings.
"We to date have not seen any outbreaks tied to outdoor whether that be beaches, protests or parks so our public health folks don't feel there's concern from outdoor spreading at beaches," Fletcher said.
Coastal mayors have said they're confident their law enforcment officers can handle enforcement if there is an influx of people.
"They all said that they can and we have to trust them that they can," Fletcher said. "But every city in San Diego has the ability to close their beaches."
For details on what to know about visiting San Diego County beaches this weekend, including where parking is prohibited, click here.