Santa Cruz County urges people to avoid gatherings at beaches

Santa Cruz County is urging people to avoid its beaches during the statewide shelter-in-place order prompted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Although outdoor exercise is still being allowed and encouraged as long as safe social distancing guidelines are followed, authorities around the country have seen large gatherings at beaches, many from students on spring breaks.

"Santa Cruz County is a popular destination for college students during this time of year," Sheriff Jim Hart said in a news release. "However, the county is asking everyone to adjust their routines in order to protect everyone's health, including their own."

Violations of the order against large gatherings could lead to a misdemeanor citation or arrest, but the county is instead seeking voluntary compliance from residents and visitors. For more information on Santa Cruz County's response to the coronavirus, people can visit, call 211 or text "COVID19" to 211211.