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Calaveras Increases Exercise, Rec For Non-Same Household Residents

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San Andreas, CA — Calaveras County’s head public health official has further clarified how local residents can access exercise and recreational opportunities during the COVID-19 emergency.

On Wednesday, Public Health Officer Dr. Dean Kelaita released his first amended order and emergency regulations, which implement the state order as it relates to outdoor exercise activities. Many are now permitted with certain local protective requirements in place, including that they are currently accessible only by those with a local physical address.

While the order emphasizes that residents should continue to shelter in place and non-essential public and private gatherings of any size or type are prohibited except by those in the same household, it adds some limited ability to engage in outdoor activities with others.

The order specifically allows groups of no more than four residents who are not members of the same household to access certain recreational opportunities at the same time as long as they maintain social distancing of six feet or more. It also recommends wearing masks or facial coverings that cover nose and mouth while doing so.

As reported here, activities that are specifically allowed are walking, hiking, bicycling on roads, paths trails, parks, and greenbelt acres. It also includes recreational riding of personal motorized off-road vehicles; use of non-commercial privately owned watercraft; hunting and fishing; equestrian activities; golf, and disc golf with portable baskets. Where vehicle parking is allowed, congregating is not and social distancing of six feet or more must be maintained at all times.

It is not yet clear when the order might trigger the opening of public gates and parking areas under state parks management like Calaveras Big Trees, or federal management such as New Melones, which is operated by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Many Unknown Variables Vs. Community Progress, Needs 

Kelaita’s order maintains that with 13 cases and some evidence of community transmission, the true number of cases remains unknown due to limited testing and those who may be asymptomatic or with lesser symptoms not seeking medical treatment.

It also specifies the importance of protecting the integrity of the local healthcare delivery system, and that while community transmission remains a significant threat, in the recent weeks compliance and cooperation from residents and businesses with the local and state orders has demonstrably helped maintain transmission at a steady rate.

He further acknowledges marked increases in complaints about residents not having enough safe access opportunities to places for physical exercise near where they are sheltering in place; that it is frequently safer and easier to access places with others versus alone and that social distancing is easier to maintain outdoors.

Other provisions of the order state that no recreational equipment may be shared with others who are not from the same household and play grounds and areas within rec locations must remain closed. Any open restroom facilities must be maintained and sanitized in accordance with procedures that are directed by County Public Health.

Check-ins if required prior to accessing the outdoor exercise or rec activities must be outdoors with masks recommended in place for staff and the public or with a plexi-glass shield barrier in place that is sanitized after each interaction. Additional requirements are now in place for golf courses.

Extra Restrictions For Golf Courses, Golfers

Tee times will be encouraged to be made and paid for electronically in advance and all players must have all their own equipment and be responsible for their own clubs. Playing partners cannot touch or carry others’ equipment. Pro shops, which may be open with limited hours, must limit customers to two people at a time inside maintaining at least six feet of space apart, prop doors open or provide sanitizing wipes to open them.

Staff must sanitize non-private carts with each use and keep them free of scorecards, pencils, towels, and sand containers. Only one person to a cart unless of the same household. Cups of the greens are being configured so the ball doesn’t “fall in.” No sand buckets/bottles, ball washers, water fountains or bunker rakes are allowed. Driving ranges and practice area putting greens remain closed. As with other recreational facilities, no congregating is allowed before or after playing and parking lots and regular congregating areas are to be strictly monitored by staff. Restrooms will have strict cleaning schedules and sanitation stations/hand cleaner/wipes will be available outside the restrooms. Food and beverage operations are to-go food and beverage only.

Kelaita’s order includes a warning it is important to understand all of the ramifications included, and that violation or failure to comply could lead to civil or criminal enforcement. It strongly encourages the use of facial coverings by all county residents whenever they are outside of their residence or vehicle.

“Everyone must help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by practicing physical distancing and taking common sense precautions,” Kelaita stresses. “The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.” Calaveras Public Health advises the public to continue practicing enhanced hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting measures.

“According to the California Governor on Monday April 27th, the state is just weeks away, not months, from meaningful modifications to the statewide closure Order,” Kelaita reiterates. “As the statewide stay-at-home is amended and relaxed, I am committed to following right along, assuming the facts regarding COVID-19 disease activity in Calaveras allows it. Through the community mitigation efforts and sacrifices of all our residents over the past six weeks, we have successfully flattened the curved, protected our senior residents in our nursing home and assisted living facilities, and saved lives.”

The doctor adds that the coronavirus is not through with us yet. “I want to see our economy opened up, I agree it should be reopened, but it should be opened deliberately, bit-by-bit, and informed by science. The last thing any of us wants to see is a resurgence of disease activity and an undoing of everything we have built to protect the health of our community.”