Marin County parks closed to curb stream of visitors

Carved wooden sign among redwood trees at the entrance to Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, California, November 20, 2017. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

All public parks in Marin County—from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area down to the smallest town parks - were ordered closed Sunday by authorities to stem the tide of visitors during California's stay at home order. 

The closure, effective immediately and until further notice, will affect town, city and county parks, open space preserves, all state parks including Mount Tamalpais State Park, Marin Municipal Water District lands and federal lands such as Point Reyes National Seashore and Muir Woods National Monument, two of the most popular tourist attractions in Marin.

Visitors may continue to use paved pathways maintained by the County of Marin, such as the popular Mill Valley-Sausalito Multiuse Pathway along Richardson Bay and the Corte Madera Pathway along Corte Madera Creek, as long as people follow guidelines on social distancing. 

The park closure order comes one day after Bay Area residents flocked to Marin County locations, most notably its Pacific Ocean beaches, putting vulnerable residents at risk because of unsafe social distancing and traffic that clogged the roads.

Marin County Sheriff's Sgt. Brenton Schneider said grocery store workers and restaurant personnel were inundated with visitors who were not respecting public health guidelines on keeping at least six feet away from other people.
"They are experiencing typical summer crowds or even bigger," Schneider said. "Those workers are being overwhelmed and they are fearful about all the close contact that they're witnessing."

Marin is one of seven Bay Area counties where shelter-in-place orders went into effect March 16. Gov. Gavin Newsom followed with a statewide stay-at-home directive two days later.