Dwight Worden, Councilmember
As I write this, Del Mar’s beaches and parks are closed. By the time you are reading this, they may be already be re-opened, but the answer as to when they will reopen is short and simple: when it is safe to do so.
Del Mar’s beaches and parks were closed by order of the City Manager on March 23 due to risks of spreading the COVID-19 virus and the inability of city staff to adequately enforce social distancing on a large weekend beach crowd that preceded the closure. State and County health orders authorized beach closure in the absence of the ability to enforce social distancing. Del Mar’s beaches were closed in coordination with neighboring city beaches, but other beach closures in the county were disorganized. Del Mar and Solana Beach closed early, State beaches including Torrey Pines closed parking lots, but only later closed the beaches themselves. Oceanside and Coronado eventually closed, but stayed open longer than others. This led to a bubble of beach users shifting around the county as beaches closed one at a time until all were closed.
Del Mar is pledged to open its beaches as soon as it is safe to do so. The opening will be in a coordinated manner working with the other North County cities and the state beaches to avoid the impacts associated with the disorganized closures. Reopening will be based on guidance from state and county health officials and rules imposed by the governor’s executive orders. The opening may be in phases—perhaps for limited time periods, for walking and surfing first but no groups, no sunbathing, etc. Later phases might open the beach to all beach-related activities. We can expect that social distancing will be required in all phases until the risk of spreading COVID-19 has dissipated, which means either an effective vaccine is available and in use, or “herd immunity” has been achieved. Even when beaches begin to open. it seems likely that restrictions will apply for some time.
Mayor Haviland, our city manager, and the entire city council have identified safely reopening the beaches as a top priority. Let’s all do our part to help—abide by the current closure rules, follow any new rules in place as the beaches start to reopen, practice good social distancing and encourage others to do likewise. The better we follow these guidelines, the sooner the beach will fully re-open. No one can say for sure how soon beach reopening will start, but I think it is likely days away. What I can say for sure is that if we don’t follow social distancing and other guidelines the city may be forced to close the beaches again. Let’s do it right—the Del Mar way!