Santa Rosa, CA – March 23, 2020 at 6:45 PM – Sonoma County’s interim public health officer today ordered the
closure of all parks in Sonoma County to further enforce the county’s
shelter-in-place directive during the COVID-19 emergency. The closure goes into
effect March 24 and remains in effect until further notice.
The closure applies to all agencies and jurisdictions operating
parks and open spaces in Sonoma County, including city, county, state and
federal parklands and recreational lands operated by private groups and
The order comes after parks, trails and beaches countywide were
crowded with visitors during the initial days of the
shelter-in-place orders issued by the county and state. Parking areas and
surrounding roads were filled with cars, and visitors gathered on trails, in
parking areas, at picnic sites and in other common areas, despite orders to
practice social distancing outdoors.
“Closing parks is a difficult decision, but it is the right
decision at this time,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, the county’s interim health
officer. “Allowing crowded conditions in parks is not in our best interest
during this health crisis. The best action we can take is to stay close to home
and limit our outdoor time to our yards and neighborhoods.”
Sonoma County’s order to shelter-in-place was issued March 17, and Dr. Mase’s action today is
an additional order to close all parks within the county. Governor Gavin Newsom
issued a statewide stay-at-home order March 18. All directives urge the public
to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus by staying home except for essential activities. However, both orders allow for limited outdoor exercise.
“We know that spending time outside is essential to our health,
but too many people using the parks makes social distancing difficult,” said
Susan Gorin, Chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “We all need to
follow the health order and stick close to home for our outdoor activities. If
we change our actions now, we slow the spread of this disease sooner than
Instead of traveling to parks, health authorities suggest
residents pursue outdoor activities like neighborhood walks and bike rides,
playing or exercising in front or back yards and gardening.
The county’s Regional Park entrances will be closed beginning
March 24, and the public is urged to comply with the closures. If visitors
continue to park on surrounding streets and walk into parks, rangers will work
with local law enforcement to restrict off-site parking.
“We hoped the parks could be an essential resource, but we can’t
support the type of use we saw during the first days of the shelter-in-place
order,” said Bert Whitaker, director of Sonoma County Regional Parks. “We thank
everyone who tried to use the parks safely, but we need to do more to protect
our community. Let’s get through this emergency knowing we’ve done all we can
to keep each other well.”
Sonoma County’s shelter-in-place order limits activity, travel and
business functions to only the most essential needs. Answers to frequently
asked questions about the order and the county’s emergency response can be
found at SoCoEmergency.org.
Social distancing is the practice of reducing close contact
between people to slow the spread of infections or diseases. Authorities
recommend keeping a 6-foot distance from people who are not members of your household.
For a list of what is safe to do to social distance, what to do with caution,
and what to avoid, visit:
additional questions, call 2-1-1 to reach the 2-1-1 Sonoma Information &