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Park districts on both sides of the Bay are following the state’s lead and closing parking lots at local beaches and parks in a bid to prevent overcrowding conditions favorable to the spread of the coronavirus.

Last weekend, beaches and parks throughout California saw record crowds despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s urgent instructions to stay at home as much as possible and keep at least six feet away from others when venturing outdoors for exercise. The state parks department responded by closing parking lots at the various locations it oversees.

“We need the public’s help to keep our parks safe” said San Mateo County Parks Director Nicholas Calderon in a statement. He asked resident to instead use their local parks and trails and avoid driving to other neighborhoods, even if it means forgoing their favorite spots.

“Be respectful of others in the park by practicing social distancing and be respectful of the environment,” he added. “If people break the rules, we will be forced to close our parks.”

The East Bay Regional Park District, which saw more people last weekend than on a busy holiday, issued a similar warning.

“We are all in this together,” said park district General Manager Robert Doyle in a statement. “We want to help everyone during this crisis by keeping parks open, but safety of the public and our employees is our top priority.”

“If parks are too crowded, please help us keep people safe by going home,” Doyle added.

The San Mateo County closures took effect Wednesday and include parking lots at Linda Mar and Rockaway beaches in Pacifica, Poplar and Redondo beaches in Half Moon Bay, and the community center in Pacifica. A full list of closures is available here: bit.ly/smcpdclosures.

The East Bay closures will take effect Friday and include parking lots at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Contra Costa County, Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda and Point Isabel in Richmond. A full list of closures is available here: bit.ly/ebrpdclosures.

Both districts have already closed restrooms, playgrounds, all picnic areas and visitor centers.

Earlier this week, San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow rebuked residents who crowded into beaches and parks.

“If you decide you want to do your own thing and follow your own rules, you disrespect us all. You spit in our face, and you will contribute to the death toll that will follow,” he wrote in a letter. “For those of you who say: ‘nobody tells me what to do,’ now is a time to make an exception. You can go back to being ornery in the future.”

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