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Morro Bay to close beach parking lots, to try and limit the spread of COVID-19

Posted at 11:48 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 02:48:01-04

The Pismo Beach pier and nearby parking lots are now closed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, and the city of Morro Bay is now following suit, closing access to popular spots across the city.

Starting Friday night at 6 p.m, beach parking lots will be closed to the public.

Alicia Sessler came to beach at Morro Bay to take some photos and get out of the house, after days being home following the state's stay at home order.

"Honestly, I haven't been outside in like three days, so this was just me getting some fresh air," said Sessler, Morro Bay resident.

And starting Friday night, taking some pictures at the beach won't be easy, as the city's parking lots will no longer be open.

The move comes in an effort to try and keep tourists from coming to Morro Bay and to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the city.

While the beaches are still open, the city encourages the community to go out for walks, a bike ride, or even surf, but they will be asking beach-goers to limit their outings to less than an hour.

"This is not a time to get a tan, this is not a time to hang out. Get out, enjoy yourself and go home. We love our visitors and tourists typically, but at this time, they need to stay home; they need to stay in their own communities, recreate in their own towns," said Scott Collins, Morro Bay city manager.

Collins says after seeing the number of people at the beaches in southern California this past weekend, this move was a preventive measure.

Beach-goers are split on the decision. Some think it's a good step, while others think it's gone too far.

"I don't walk-up close to people and want to shake their hand. If we keep our social distancing and follow those rules, I don't see where there's a problem," said Dennis Noonan, frequent visitor to Morro Bay.

"I totally think it's a good idea to prevent people from interacting, but I don't think a parking lot is going to be the most likely spot you're going to catch the coronavirus," said Sessler.

For a city that relies on tourism and its surroundings, the city understands it is a tough decision to make -- but it was one that was needed to try and keep the community safe.

"This disruptions are painful and challenging, and we all enjoy nature; we all enjoy our beaches and they're still open, but do it responsibly. Do it in small groups -- people that you know, your family, and practice good social distancing," said Collins.

Along with parking lots, the city will also be closing their boat launch to anyone except for licensed commercial fishers, which has been deemed to be an essential business activity.

The closures will run for as long as the governor's stay-at-home order is in effect.

The city says they will be monitoring the parking situation over the weekend and will adjust if neighborhoods are impacted by more cars.