On Monday March 16, 2020 Marin County Public Health issued a legal Public Health Order directing all residents to shelter at home, followed by an order from Governor Gavin Newsom with similar restrictions. On March 24, 2020 Marin County Public Health issued an order closing all parks, beaches and campgrounds to motorized access. Unfortunately, we continue to see a deluge of visitors travelling to Marin County for non-essential reasons. More specifically, a multitude of visitors not practicing social distancing and crowding our trails and parks, which puts the health and safety of our county at risk.
Today, Marin County Public Health issued a superseding, extended and revised Public Health Order and revised Park Closure Order that is in effect until 11:59 p.m. on May 3, 2020. Some of the highlights from the new park closure order include, but are not limited to:
- All agencies and jurisdictions operating public outdoor recreation areas, including but not limited to parks, campgrounds, and open spaces (hereinafter, “Park Facilities”), within Marin County (the “County”) are hereby directed to cease all operations and services related to facilitating the public’s motorized access to all Park Facilities located within the County. This applies to all Park Facilities within the County, regardless of ownership.
- Individuals may continue to responsibly access those Park Facilities that are local to their residences and readily accessible by foot, bicycle or other non-motorized means for the purpose of engaging in Essential Activities as defined in the March 31 Order, including outdoor exercise. Such access of Park Facilities shall be exclusively by non-motorized means, except that disabled individuals with vehicles possessing current and valid Disabled Person (DP) Parking Placards or DP License Plates may continue to access Park Facilities by motorized means but only to the minimum extent necessary to engage in Essential Activities. All visitors to any Park Facility shall continue to comply with all Social Distancing Requirements, and all individuals are expected to remain local when enjoying the outdoors to the greatest extent practicable.
- To be clear, this Order means that any motorized vehicle driving to or parking around a Park Facility for the purpose of accessing that facility is in violation of this Order unless it is displaying a DP Parking Placard or DP License Plate.
- Violation of any of the provisions of this Order constitutes an imminent threat and menace to public health, constitutes a public nuisance, and is punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
The Marin County Sheriff’s Office has taken an approach to enforcement focusing on education and communication in hopes businesses and residents would cooperate with the Order, but as we’ve seen the past week, not all have.
We are receiving dozens of calls daily from concerned residents reporting people gathering in groups and non-essential businesses still operating as usual, both in violation of the Order. Violation of the County or State Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment or both (Health and Safety Code 120295 and Government Code 8665).
We have been proactively contacting non-essential businesses still operating to gain compliance. Voluntary compliance will be sought for both the Public Health and Park closure Orders, but if that compliance is not gained, Deputies will enforce the above-mentioned Health and Safety and Government codes. To date, no citations have been issued for violating the Health or Park Orders.
While we do not take this enforcement stance lightly, the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious health threat, and the Public Health Order and Park Closure Order are enforceable.
Marin County Parks and Open Space along with the Marin County Sheriff’s Office will be collaboratively working together to ensure compliance with the Park Closure Order.
If you would like further information on COVID-19 and Marin County's response, please visit www.marinhhs.org/coronavirus