Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches title=
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches
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Leadbetter beach at 12:30 p.m. Friday, April 24 (Photo: Patti Gutshall/edhat)
Update by edhat staff
July 2, 2020

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) has reversed course and announced the beaches will close through the July 4th weekend.

Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg issued a health officer order requiring all beaches to be closed to the public during the July 4th weekend.  This order is effective from 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 3, 2020 and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 5, 2020.

PHD stated this order is being issued in response to Santa Barbra County not meeting the threshold criteria for Elevated Disease Transmission, Increasing Hospitalization, and Limited Hospital Capacity for the past 16 days as noted in the County Monitoring Metrics. However, just days earlier when the county was still not meeting the threshold criteria, PHD announced beaches will remain open. There was pushback from numerous residents and suggestions by Governor Gavin Newsom for local officials to close beaches.

“The temporary closure of all beaches is necessary due to the anticipated high volume of people at our beaches during the July 4th weekend, which will impede the practice of safe and necessary social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Santa Barba County,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg. “The landscape for this upcoming weekend has changed in the past few days as more and more counties have decided to close their beaches. This raised significant concern for the impacts to our local community.”

During Thursday's press conference, PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso stated they were hopeful the beaches could remain open over the holiday weekend, however, an increase in local cases, being on the state's monitoring list, and the closure of other southern California beaches led to the reversal of their decision.

The threat of thousands of people from out of the area funneling to Santa Barbara County caused great concern and the decision to pivot was in the community's best interest, Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed.

Public beaches are closed with the exception that the ocean is open for water sports (e.g. surfing, swimming, paddle-boarding, kayaking, boating) and the beaches may be used for running, walking, cycling, or other forms of active physical activity. Passive activities like sunbathing, sitting, and picnicking are prohibited, as are umbrellas, tents, shade structures, beach chairs, coolers, and barbecues. 

Dr. Do-Reynoso also confirmed PHD has been working with local law enforcement and Parks and Recreation to assist with enforcing this closure. 

The full health officer order can be found here.

More information about the COVID-19 response locally, visit or call the County Call Center at 1(833) 688 – 5551.

By edhat staff
June 30, 2020

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) announced the beaches will remain open through the July 4th weekend.

"Beachgoers from separate households must maintain at least six feet of physical distance from one another and wash or sanitize their hands thoroughly and often. Strict social distancing will be enforced," according to PHD.

This announcement comes one day after Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg ordered all breweries and bars who do not serve a sit-down meal to close. Governor Newsom made the recommendation as Santa Barbara County failed to meet the state's attestation requirements.

Ventura and Los Angeles Counties have reportedly closed their beaches for the holiday weekend to prevent crowding that results in the spread of COVID-19. Many locals fear with Santa Barbara beaches open, people from out of town will travel to the area to enjoy the beach for the long weekend.

On Monday Santa Barbara County reported its 29th COVID-19 related death and 184 new cases from Saturday through Monday. Of the total 2,896 cases, 604 are still active.

Additionally, PHD stated there will not be a COVID-19 daily case report for Tuesday as they are transitioning data platforms. The next update will be provided on Wednesday, July 1.

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PitMix Jul 01, 2020 08:27 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Maybe the beach is relatively safe, but in getting there you are going to be around people in the bathrooms, restaurants, gas stations, candy stores, bike rental places, hotel lobbies, and crowded sidewalks. If you don't act sensibly this weekend, please ride out any ensuing illness in your home and don't bother the people at our hospitals. They have enough to do helping the people that tried to follow the rules.

Lorax Jul 01, 2020 08:10 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Collectively the City Council made the right decision to leave beaches open.
It was encouraging to see the data and science honored using reason instead of making some "emotional" decision.
Thank you Mayor Murillo for protecting our Freedom of choice for all and not being manipulated by emotion. Clearly you have done your research, are respecting our Public Health experts and standing side by side with the County on this.
The Health Department that is very conservative with safety, has not recommended closure nor has the County. More people are being tested, so more are showing positive, this is expected. The key numbers are reflected in the ICU numbers which have remained flat, even with numbers of new cases up.
If you don't feel safe, you have a choice not to go out. When we go out anywhere, not just on the 4th of July holiday weekend, on any day it is important to remember to social distance , wear a mask
( not with one way valve ) and wash/sanitize your hands often.
We are going to be in this for a long time at least until there is a vaccine. Stay frustrated or adjust , its your choice.
The Public Health Department is tracing the Covid exposures to people who test positive to someone, friend or family members they know and spend time with them often, not from wide open space and contact less than 10 minutes with the public.

letmego Jul 01, 2020 08:50 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

First off, the % of positive results are going up, that's a problem. Second, the desire to close beaches comes primarily from wanting to keep the people from Los Angeles (still a hotbed!) from coming here. Should we worry about the beaches? Maybe not too much...but they stay here, they eat here, they drink here...that's the issue. (Also, testing until the last week has been flat, not increasing. Everyone says it's been increasing. Numbers show something different.)

sbdude Jul 01, 2020 07:44 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

"Santa Barbara is NOT a mask-free zone. If you want to visit here, you *must* wear a mask. If you don't want to wear a mask, you are not a welcome visitor to our city, please turn around and go home." Are they going to put up signs like this on the 101 at Rincon? Maybe they should!

biguglystick Jul 01, 2020 11:37 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

LOOSE CANNON, in my experience, the locals are being very good about wearing masks, it's the tourists I'm worried about, as I saw on our Sunday drive on Stearn's Wharf, it was a hot mess. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Are people really that stupid? Yes... yes, they are. That is why closing the beaches in SB down would have been the right thing to do, but here we are. Buckle up.

LooseCannon Jul 01, 2020 07:53 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

They did have a sign at the beginning of Cabrillo Blvd, near the bird refuge and East Beach, reminding visitors to maintain physical distance and wear a mask. Maybe it's still there? In my experience, locals and visitors alike are being very conscientious about the various health mandates. Most of the spread is due to people sitting indoors, in prisons, retirement centers, ane group homes. I'm glad that my family and the families of our essential workers, those of us who don't have palatial residences with swimming pools and various other amenities, can enjoy being outdoors, on the beach, this holiday weekend.

LooseCannon Jul 01, 2020 07:21 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE. Excellent decision. I will be taking my daughter to the beach. She's fed up being locked indoors, going on four months now, with appalling virtual classroom instruction via Zoom. We'll be getting vigorous exercise swimming in the ocean, jumping over waves, boosting our immune systems with the sunrays. It's extremely unlikely that we will be infected in an outdoor context as long as we're physically distancing and staying in small groups. If some of you feel better sitting indoors, binge-watching Netflix, with the A/C going full blast (while the postal service is delivering your mail, your Mexican gardener is cutting your lawn, Marborg is hauling your trash, and Uber-eats is delivering your gourmet meals), be my guest. But, please, spare me your self-righteous attitudes!

therealbebe Jul 01, 2020 07:13 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

I wrote to the mayor (ha) and the city councilmembers. Oscar Gutierrez was as upset as we are that the vote to close beaches this weekend did not pass. However, Mike Jordan was smug, and took the "if you don't feel comfortable, don't go to the beach" viewpoint. How myopic and downright embarrassing for him AND the mayor. How is it that people do not realize that this is about more than the beach? Literally inviting Los Angelenos to flock our city - when their own home county had the good sense to shut theirs down - is ludicrous. You think these people won't go to the Funk Zone tasting rooms, since the bars are closed? You think they won't go to restaurants, convenience shops, and grocery stores for supplies? Do you honestly believe that they will go to the beach and leave without interacting with our community? WRONG. LA has the highest current infection rate in the country, and the beach goers will be blissfully spreading it around all of SB County. Ventura even had the foresight to close their beaches to make it less attractive for LA. **Also, why on earth are wineries and tasting rooms allowed to be open while bars are closed? The only difference is they serve cheese and crackers. I am truly appalled at the greedy, crappy leadership of this county,

a-1593579020 Jun 30, 2020 09:50 PM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Although, if you've been reading the latest statistics, it's being reported re: the 1,000s of demonstrations countrywide---------the "clusters" of predicted infections never materialized. It appears that dine-in restaurants are more lethal than outdoor gatherings. No-one is more surprised than I. Nevertheless. that said, count me as one who thinks The City/County made the wrong decision on this particular occasion. People will be infected. Beaches should remain closed.

a-1593620911 Jul 01, 2020 09:28 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

WRONG protests spread it they just aren't asking them and/or ppl are not admitting to being at protests so no accurate data there. PPL will admit going to a restaurant and/or will be asked about it but not protests so you can't trust the reporting right now.

mesarez Jun 30, 2020 09:39 PM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

@Free Speech Not & SeaBird... going out to the beach or anywhere public for that matter is also a choice.
There are ways to protect ourselves, you know.
As far as crowded beaches go- how about practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. No one said you can’t tell those around you to park their beach chairs at least 6 feet away. No one said you can’t wear a mask. Stand firm. Stop being such victims in this whole ordeal. There are ways to stay safe. Stop adding more negativity to an already difficult time. Nothing makes everything worse than a bad attitude.

DTOM Jul 01, 2020 10:28 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Lets not be naive and make it as simple as not going out during the weekend...we live here, why wait till the weekend? Go early, go late...there wont be anything to see or do anyways since the whole celebration is cancelled....did anyone think or say that, besides me, already...? And if you all really think wearing crappy none sealing masks work anyways, you just go ahead and get that vaccine that modifies your DNA and see how you feel afterwards...always look deeper than the surface

therealbebe Jul 01, 2020 07:15 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

@Mesarez, it's not just about beaches. Thousands of people from LA (with the highest infection rate in the nation, currently) will be visiting our restaurants, convenience shops, grocery stores, etc. while they are here for our beaches. Don't be naive.

Luvaduck Jul 01, 2020 07:11 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Close beaches? Same way Ventura and L.A. do. Limit to locals? Photo IDs and hand stamps like outdoor concerts. Adding my 2 cents: The 4th always draws rowdies, particularly young, male ones feeling their oats and "advertising" babes drinking more than they're used to. Good time to give it a pass if that isn't your scene.

a-1593577859 Jun 30, 2020 09:30 PM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

No kidding. Also: How would Santa Barbara police the beaches anyway? Not enough man/woman power on Earth is going to keep people from swarming down there and lighting off their own fireworks. Probably be building fires in the sand, too because, well . . . they're people who just don't care about anything but themselves . . .if they even care about anything at all.

a-1593575145 Jun 30, 2020 08:45 PM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Did you people not see this coming? They released the tax results and are down 80% compared to last May. Of course they will try to bring people here to get money. The city does not want to cut their salary and be like everyone else. And more people getting CoronaVirus will get more in the hospital and more tax dollars on that.

DTOM Jul 01, 2020 10:01 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

Great points. Lets also remember that the city council voted to approve a 20 year long verizon wireless license agreement to allow small cells to be installed and the city get paid nearly 250/light pole/month(is that part correct?)...thats going to last much longer then this "virus"...and for what...not for the health and safety according to Eric Friedman...go watch that city council meeting, till the very end and see THAT calamity for does this relate to COVID-19? Contact tracing, more granular pinpointing of your smartphones(with contact tracing modules embedded in the operating system updates!!!), activation of symptoms that are on the list of COVID-19 symptoms...millimeter waves are no joke. This is all part of a BIGGER plan...don't worry about the beaches...but if you do feel confident in going out, leave your phone at home, and just skip Sat and Sunday, go Fri or Monday...duh! We live here, why do we NEED to go on the weekend anyways? No one wants to be around LA-ians anytime of any year, anyways. Use your own heads and think for yourselvs!!!

a-1593629702 Jul 01, 2020 11:55 AM
Public Health Reverses Course and Closes Santa Barbara County Beaches

BIGUGLY - that was my idea months ago when they cancelled the fireworks. Why not close stuff down and enforce it like in IV? No, they cancel the fireworks but open and actively PROMOTE our beaches to tens of thousands of out of town "visitors." This is beyond stupid!


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