San Diego County beaches

Encinitas Lifeguards Adapt to Reopening Beaches With ‘Summer-Like' Crowds

San Diego County Sheriff's Department deputies are supporting Encinitas lifeguards by patrolling the sand and guarding blocked-off beach entrances

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Several San Diego County cities have partially reopened their beaches after a nearly month-long closure to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But the opening comes with a lot of restrictions and duties for lifeguards.

Encinitas Marine Safety Captain Larry Giles said Monday looked like Opening Day for Del MarRracing because hundreds of people filled Moonlight Beach.

“The way we're seeing things develop, summer started yesterday,” said Captain Giles.

Encinitas Lifeguards are adjusting to the new wave of crowds hitting the beaches and it comes with its own set of rules.

Beachgoers can run, walk or jog on the beach, but cannot be stationery or play in the sand. People can also swim, surf or paddleboard but, there is no shore fishing or boating allowed. All parking lots are closed until further notice.

San Diego County Sheriff's Deputies are helping lifeguards out by patrolling the sand and also guarding blocked off beach entrances. The City placed new barricades that close off every beach entrance between Leucadia and Encinitas other than Moonlight Beach.

“The deputies are definitely heavy lifters of this situation here with all the enforcement going on,” said Capt. Giles.

Deputies are also giving out warnings and citations to those that don't comply.

“Additional lifeguards we're bringing on is to help educate and manage folks for physical distancing so they don't get up to beach and we don't get groups and have to close the beach down,” said Capt. Giles. “We're trying to prevent that from happening."

San Diego County's Public Health Order was modified to allow for surfing, swimming, and other in-water activities at some regional beaches, effective April 27 at sunrise.

However, the order called for individual cities to make decisions on when they will open up their beaches and allow access to the ocean. Cities will also decide hours for openings and set guidelines more strict but not less strict than the county's guidelines.

Several city leaders across San Diego’s northern coast, including leaders in Encinitas, told NBC 7 they were caught off guard at the county’s announcement that beaches could reopen, leaving them scrambling to create plans to move forward.

Despite, on Monday, all beaches but the ones in Carlsbad, Solana Beach, Del Mar, and state-run beaches were reopened, each with their own set of restrictions for residents.

Here are the rules for the beaches that are open in San Diego County:

San Diego

  • Allowed: Swimming, surfing (not allowed on San Diego Bay), single-person paddling and kayaking in the ocean; walking and running on the beach
  • Not Allowed: Stopping, sitting, lying down on the beach; access to boardwalks and piers, parking lots and Fiesta Island; boating; gatherings of any kind


  • Allowed: Swimming, surfing, single-person paddling and kayaking in the ocean; walking and running on the beach
  • Not Allowed: Loitering, laying on the sand, gathering in groups of any sizes and using fire pits; access to Dog Beach and Sunset Park; parking
  • Beaches will be closed at sunset

Imperial Beach

  • Allowed: Walking and jogging on the beach but a face covering is required
  • Not Allowed: Entering the water (temporary closure is due to pollution); stopping, sitting, lying down on the beach; gatherings of any size; access to parking lots, street ends or the pier


  • Allowed: Access to Moonlight Beach only for walking and running in a select "active zone"; swimming, surfing, paddling and kayaking in the ocean
  • Not Allowed: Gatherings of any kind, stopping, standing, sitting or lying down; games or other sports; access to parking lots and parking on Coast Highway


  • Allowed: Running and walking on beaches; swimming, surfing, paddling and kayaking in the ocean
  • Not Allowed: Standing, sitting or lying down; gatherings, group exercising or group games, recreational boating; access to the pier or the amphitheater; access to the strand except for vehicles (residents will be allowed to access their property); parking lots are closed

Del Mar

  • Allowed: Running and walking on beaches; swimming, surfing and paddling in the ocean
  • Not Allowed: Standing sitting or lying down; games, sports and activities such as volleyball, frisbee, yoga and calisthenics; The 17th Street/Beach Safety Center parking lot will be closed except for disabled access vehicles


  • Allowed: Running and walking on beaches; in the water, visitors may swim, surf, kayak (from the Agua Hedionda Lagoon entrances), bodyboard, body surf, paddleboard, snorkel and scuba dive from the shore; fishing but only from a kayak or boat
  • Not Allowed: Standing sitting or lying down; bringing umbrellas, coolers or BBQs; gatherings of any kind, including to play sports like volleyball, football, frisbee, soccer, yoga and others where you stay in one place

Solana Beach

  • Allowed: Walking and running is allowed on the beach; swimming, surfing paddling and kayaking will be allowed only within an "exercise zone" and only to those with experience; swim zones will be set up at Fletcher Cove and occasionally at Tide Park and Del Mar Shores; Fletcher Cove will be open for beach access.
  • Not Allowed: Gatherings of any kind and sports and games on the beach; Fletcher Cove Park will remain closed, as will restrooms and showers; Tide Park and Del Mar Shores stairs will only be open for exiting the beach, while Seascape Stairs will be open only for entry to the beach. The parking lots remain closed

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