Sunbeam Lake

Sunbeam Lake. COURTESY PHOTO   

IMPERIAL COUNTY — The County of Imperial starting today will reopen county regional parks, private and public golf courses, and other outdoor recreational areas, with limited access.

Outdoor recreational areas that can be used for jogging, walking, biking and other non-contact outdoor sports will be permitted to reopen, with some restrictions and guidelines still in place in order to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. 

Imperial County Board Supervisor Chairman Lupe Plancarte said he has seen the benefits of this with the City of El Centro already having its parks open for these activities.

 “It’s a great opportunity of opening up some parks in the same way,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to get outdoors and not be cooped up.”

Supervisor Ray Castillo is also pleased the parks and outdoor areas are being relaxed.

 “We have been under a stay at home order for over a month, and there was a reason for that,” Castillo said. “As the weather warms up it can ease the restrictions of the wide open spaces.”

Castillo still wants the public to be safe and follow the guidelines when visiting one of the parks or outdoor areas.

Castillo hopes the summer heat could help against the virus.

 “From what I have head if it is exposed to the Sun it will kill it,” he said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is also easing restrictions on hospital surgeries to elective and necessary.

The decision to reopen these outdoor recreational areas was done so with the county’s health and safety in mind.

While some parks will be reopened for running, walking and bicycling along with others it does not allow any type of contact sports or to participate in organized activities, such as parties, or sports.

Plancarte would not called it a step in reopening the county and economy because he knows President Donald Trump has outlined the steps needed to allow the states to reopen.

While state parks are not open to vehicle traffic, they are open for walking and hiking.

“It is an option and opportunity,” Plancarte said.

 Back in March parks and/or other outdoor recreational areas located throughout the Valley closed. 

Staying staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy, the county wrote in a press release. 

Mental and physical health are very closely connected.  Having an open area where the public can get some fresh air, relieve stress and stay active is important for everyone at this time. 

While these facilities and spaces offer health benefits, it is important everyone follow certain steps to continue to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus.

When visiting a park, trail, golf course and/or an outdoor area, do not visit parks, trails, golf courses and/or outside areas if sick or were recently exposed to the virus, stay at least six feet from others at all times, do not go into a crowded area or visit crowded parks.

The Public Health Department is continuing its order of wearing face coverings when around others that are not within your household when a distance of six feet cannot be maintained. 

The use of tennis courts are allowed as is fishing, if the guidelines can be applied. 

Basketball courts, public or communal pools, hot tubs, spas, water playgrounds/splash pads, or water parks are not allowed under the relaxed protocols.

The public is advised to bring hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to use if soap and water are not available, as restrooms, playgrounds and/or playground equipment will remain closed.

 The list of County Regional Parks that will reopen today include Sunbeam Lake Park in Seeley, Wiest Lake Park in Brawley, Red Hill Park in Calipatria and Palo Verde Park

For information on open golf courses or other local parks or outdoor recreational areas, please contact the owner/operator directly. 

The public is still encouraged to visit the Imperial County Public Health Department website at  www.icphd.org for the latest information about COVID-19 in Imperial County.  Updates may also be found on the County of Imperial Facebook page and Twitter pages @ImperialCntyCA.

Staff Writer Michael Maresh can be reached at mmaresh@ivpressonline.com.

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