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Lopez Lake camping returns to full capacity this weekend

Posted at 8:56 PM, Jun 13, 2020

Friday marked the day the Lopez Lake campgrounds could once again return to 100% capacity.

This move comes after a recent order from Gov. Gavin Newsom allowing most California counties to relax coronavirus restrictions on campgrounds.

Returning to full capacity was a welcome sign for visitors.

"We came out this weekend just to kind of get away. We've been cooped up so much, it's kind of nice to get out," said Josh Shamblin, a camper.

"Hanging out with my friends has just been amazing for once," Diego Montesinos, a camper.

The Lopez Lake campgrounds had to operate at a limited capacity in recent weeks and park rangers said that meant having to turn away visitors from campsites.

However, this weekend reopening to full capacity has allowed the park to meet demands.

"The demand is pretty high. Usually, we don't have as many local San Luis Obispo County residents camping at once, but since it's been the way it has been right now, a lot of the local residents have been camping here more than usual," said Brent Kitagawa, a park ranger aide.

Park rangers said there is enough space in between sites to ensure social distancing and there are crews doing several cleanings of bathrooms to keep up with the usage from campers.

Some campers said these new measures are making them feel safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If you go to the marina they make you wear masks when you go inside, so they're trying to take precautions as much as they can. Most of us families are staying together and we're keeping distances and sitting around a fire with open-air, so it seems to be pretty comfortable," said Shamblin.

Even though demand is high for campsites at Lopez Lake, park ranger Kitagawa said reopening back to 100% has given more options for SLO County campers.

"Since we opened up this hill area at 100%, there's been quite a bit of availability," said Kitagawa.

To ensure social distancing, park rangers said group camping sites are still not open in an effort to limit large gatherings and groups more than 10 people from camping.

Dr. Borenstein with the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health said she recommends people try and stick to their camping groups and minimize using shared surfaces.