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San Luis Obispo County campgrounds not allowing out of county travelers ahead of Memorial Day Weekend

Posted at 11:16 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-23 02:16:45-04

Memorial Day weekend is one of the busier travel weekends in San Luis Obispo County, but this year the county is telling travelers not to come.

If you don't live in the county, you won't be able to camp at Lopez Lake campgrounds this weekend. Under the county's recent lodging order, it's limiting hotels and campgrounds to 50-percent capacity. Officials will be checking ID's upon arrival to make sure out of county travelers are staying home.

For those who live in San Luis Obispo County, Memorial Day weekend is giving families the chance to head outdoors and camp, after months of sheltering at home.

"We were able to get back to camping, which is something we do yearly with a group of friends. So we enjoy it and the kids obviously love it," said Brandon Hall, an Atascadero resident.

"It's been like bored to death going in the house all day, so coming out here is just super fun," said Wesley Thomas, an Atascadero resident.

While the Thomas and Hall families set up their tents and campsites at Lopez Lake, other families had long-standing reservations canceled, just weeks before Memorial Day.

"We were all looking forward to it and to be told a week-and-a-half before the actual date just seemed counter productive," said Jen Knight, a Santa Barbara County resident.

Knight's family and friends have been camping at Lopez Lake for Memorial Day weekend for almost four years, but this time they had their plans canceled because they don't live in San Luis Obispo County.

"If you're traveling from outside the county to come to Lopez Lake or Santa Margarita Lake, then you're going to get turned around," said Nick Franco, the San Luis Obispo County Parks Director.

San Luis Obispo County's short term lodging order is meant to limit the spread of COVID-19, but it's not a move all travelers agree with.

"The whole situation of, 'No you're from Santa Barbara County, we don't want you to travel, we're reducing our risk of exposure, so you can't come here anymore' and it wasn't okay," said Knight.

Franco says the Lopez Lake campground is booked for Memorial Day weekend and that if you don't have an update driver's license or ID, you can bring a utility bill or similar form to prove you are a county resident.

San Luis Obispo County officials say they want to follow state orders which prohibit recreational travel.