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SLO Co. spared from governor's COVID-19 restriction order, expects surge of tourists for July 4th

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Posted at 9:06 AM, Jul 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-03 13:21:39-04

Independence Day weekend is typically a busy time for the Central Coast and even though the pandemic has forced fireworks shows and parades to cancel, San Luis Obispo tourism managers still expect a surge of visitors.

Earlier this week, the governor announced restrictions on indoor activities in 19 California counties, including Santa Barbara County.

Santa Barbara County also ordered its beaches to close Friday through Sunday, along with similar orders made in LA County and in the Bay area.

"Other communities are closing and guidelines and businesses that can be open are changing in some of those other communities, of course, that will potentially bring new or different visitors to our community," San Luis Obispo Tourism Manager Molly Cano said.

Hotels in downtown SLO reached about 90 percent capacity for last year's July 4th holiday.

This year, fireworks shows and parades are canceled but restaurants and wineries remain open in SLO County.

Even though the number of visitors is expected to be much lower this time around, local hotels are seeing a large number of weekend bookings.

A manager at the Apple Farm Inn on Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo said the hotel currently has the most scheduled guests that it's seen since the pandemic began.

"What we're anticipating is another busy weekend our hotels are seeing bookings coming through and we're seeing guests booking their stays, but what we do know is guests are making last-minute decisions about traveling to their destination," Cano said.

Occupancy at Lake Nacimiento, a popular destination for Central Coast residents, is limited.

Management at Lake Nacimiento Resort said four of the five campgrounds will be open.

The Oak Knoll campsite is offering 100 percent capacity, while the Quail Roost and Pine Knoll campsites will be at 50 percent capacity. Sandy Point is being held at 75 percent capacity for the holiday weekend, according to resort managers.

Day use permits for fishing and hiking are capped at 100 and launching permits for trucks and trailers will max out at 250.

Masks will be required in all buildings and park rangers will be patrolling to ensure social distancing.