California campgrounds to close when COVID-19 stay-at-home order starts

The Four Percent

Campgrounds at national and state parks in California will temporarily close when the governor’s stay-at-home order goes into effect in Northern California, the Bay Area, greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. The order announced Thursday imposes stricter rules to ease the toll the COVID-19 crisis is taking on hospitals. Certain areas of the state will shut down when capacity at intensive care units drops below 15%.

California State Parks will remain open for day use but not for overnight stays, according to a park press release Friday. Campgrounds will close 24 hours after a region dips below the allowed ICU capacity. People holding reservations will receive a refund from ReserveCalifornia, the state’s reservation system.

National parks in the state will remain open but will close campsites too. Spokeswoman Abby Wines at Death Valley National Park said campers would have two nights to leave the campground once the order goes into effect. Future reservations would be canceled, and lodgings in the park may also be affected.

Five counties in the Bay Area, which include the cities of San Francisco and Berkeley, will preemptively adopt the new order starting at 10 p.m. Sunday to address already overcrowded hospitals dealing with COVID-19. It is expected to last until Jan. 4.

In his speech about the order, Newsom emphasized that walking, hiking, running, skiing and other outdoor activities were vital for people to maintain their mental and physical health. Trails and beaches remain open, but you can’t gather with people outside your immediate household. Also social distancing and mask-wearing rules remain in place. State parks urge people to prepare for their day visits by bringing their own hand sanitizer and soap, and taking their trash with them when they leave. Some restrooms may not be open, and new parking rules may be in place, the release said. Check the state parks’ website before you go to make sure you know what to expect.

The order also requires Californians to stay home — allowing only essential travel — and shuts indoor and outdoor playgrounds, hair salons and barbershops, wineries, cardrooms, amusement parks and other businesses and activities. It also limits hotels and lodging to serving essential travelers, limits restaurants and eateries to take-out only, and limits stores and shopping centers to 20% capacity.

The order remains in effect for 21 days after the shutdown begins. Over the last week, California averaged 17,007 new cases of COVID-19 each day, according to Times data. That represents a 61.6% increase from two weeks ago. Read more on current case increases here.

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