Santa Cruz beaches
Santa Cruz Police patrol Main Beach in Santa Cruz in May to monitor a new beach order that prohibits their use between 11 am and 5 pm, except for water sports. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

SANTA CRUZ—Saying that “people were not willing to be governed anymore,” Santa Cruz County Health Officer Gail Newel on Thursday said the county’s daily beach restrictions will be removed starting Friday.

Save for water sports, county beaches have been off-limits between 11am-5pm since late April. But Newel said those restrictions have “become impossible for law enforcement to continue to enforce” as the county over the past few weeks has reopened several parts of its economy, including Santa Cruz’s large tourism industry.

The local shelter-in-place order, Newel said, will also be allowed to expire on July 6. The county will then follow the statewide stay-at-home order. 

The move comes days after the county saw its largest single-day jump in Covid-19 cases (21) on Monday. The county has also recently seen record highs in active cases (107) and hospitalizations (6). 

Newel said the rise in cases was expected and said the county is a “long ways” from reaching its hospital and ICU bed capacity or hitting any “triggers” that could force some of the county’s industries to close.

“We feel reassured that compared to the rest of the state we’re doing relatively well—we’re doing very well compared to the rest of the state,” Newel said. “Just a reminder that the counties that surround us all have much higher case rates than we do and as tourism increases and as our beaches reopen we can expect that those cases will impact our own.”

There have been 337 known cases in Santa Cruz County since the novel coronavirus was first identified in the county in early March. Among those people, 228 have recovered. 

The county also announced its third Covid-19 death Thursday but said the disease was not the primary cause of death. The Mid-County man who died was in his mid-90s and lived in hospice care.

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Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


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