You are the owner of this article.
top story

North Coast leaders again urge visitors to stay away over virus

Message timed to weather forecast

  • 0
Sunset Beach

Dozens of people headed to Sunset Beach on Sunday despite the statewide stay-at-home order.

At one point on Saturday, state fish and wildlife staff counted between 700 and 800 people digging clams on Clatsop Beach.

It was a far cry from the thousands they recorded when people descended on the North Coast on a weekend in March. But the numbers are still more than state and local officials would like to see as they seek to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, North Coast leaders renewed their efforts to keep visitors away.

Washington state is closed to all recreational activities like clamming and fishing through at least May 4. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife closed recreational salmon and steelhead fishing on the Columbia River indefinitely. With favorable clam tides and good weather on the horizon, leaders fear crowds at Oregon beaches could be a problem despite government restrictions to discourage visitors.

They want to avoid a repeat of what happened on March 21, when daytrippers and others hoping for a spring break getaway came to the coast amid appeals to stay home.

“Community leaders in Clatsop County and the cities of Astoria, Cannon Beach, Gearhart, Seaside and Warrenton are reminding residents of the Pacific Northwest to continue to ‘Stay Home, Save Lives,’” stated a message sent from local governments Tuesday afternoon.

Gov. Kate Brown issued a stay-at-home order in March after people disregarded the state’s recommendations to limit unnecessary travel.

While North Coast governments have issued a patchwork of emergency declarations and restrictions and the state has closed parks, trails and recreation areas, beaches are still open.

The one exception is a portion of beach that Seaside shares jurisdiction of with the state. The city has closed that beach to locals and visitors alike, authorizing police officers to issue citations if people do not comply with requests to leave.

The county and the state have discouraged people from driving to the beach by restricting beach access and parking lots. The county is installing gates at two primary beach access roads, Sunset Beach Road and Del Rey Beach Road. County leaders are still determining when the gates will be closed and how limited access will be enforced.

Cannon Beach has asked the state to go a step further and consider closing beaches entirely, according to Rick Hudson, the city’s emergency manager.

“The ocean shore remains open, but may be closed if people don’t maintain social distance,” the state warned on the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s website.

Unlike Seaside, Cannon Beach has not completely shut down access to the beach, but it has attempted to discourage access. The city declared itself closed to visitors and has barricaded some parking lots. Officers may issue a $500 misdemeanor citation to people who do not respect social distancing guidelines, Hudson said.

Neither Seaside nor Cannon Beach have issued any citations yet, however. Most people respond well when officers inform them of local rules and concerns, police say.

In Cannon Beach, most shops and restaurants are closed and the streets are empty, but Hudson knows warm weather and sunny days may prove to be an irresistible temptation. There is a chance Cannon Beach may try to follow Seaside in shutting down beaches to everyone.

“If we get more cases (of the virus) and we can’t control the visitors, we’re going to have to take matters into our own hands and pass more resolutions to close the city down even further,” Hudson said.

People need to know they can’t simply blow off the governor’s order because the weather is nice and they want to go to the beach, he said.

Clatsop County had five reported cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday. Small coastal hospitals are not equipped to deal with a major outbreak, Hudson said.

“We’re going to feel it and not recover and we’re afraid of that,” he added.

The beach is the main attraction in places like Seaside, said Seaside City Manager Mark Winstanley. City leaders hoped to bypass any confusion — or an uptick in visitors as weather improved — by closing the beach.

“We really did not expect what we saw a couple weekends ago,” Winstanley said. “We literally had thousands of people that showed up on our doorstep.”

North Coast communities responded with emergency declarations and restrictions on campgrounds, hotels and other lodging following the surge of visitors. The state later closed parks and recreation sites like Fort Stevens State Park and Arcadia Beach. Lewis and Clark National Historical Park also closed.

“We don’t get to pick and choose who we allow on the beach, so we just simply came back and said, ‘No, we’re telling people at this point the beach is closed,’” Winstanley said, adding, “We don’t want people coming to this area any more than we think it’s appropriate to go to their backyard.”

Surfers are still allowed to come and go from the Cove north of Seaside and a parking lot above the beach remains open for people to park and enjoy the view.

“Are they technically on the beach, yeah, probably,” said Seaside Police Chief Dave Ham about the surfers. But, he added, “By the nature of surfing, they are pretty much practicing social distancing.”

Katie Frankowicz is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact her at 971-704-1723 or

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Coronavirus Sections

Get breaking news!

Coronavirus FAQ

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals?

There is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States.

Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene.

Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick with COVID-19?

You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the new coronavirus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets.

What about imported animals or animal products?

CDC does not have any evidence to suggest that imported animals or animal products pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the United States.

What precautions should be taken for animals that have recently been imported from outside the United States?

At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets and service animals, can spread COVID-19. As with any animal introduced to a new environment, animals recently imported should be observed daily for signs of illness. If an animal becomes ill, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian. Call your local veterinary clinic before bringing the animal into the clinic and let them know that the animal was recently imported from another country.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News

Local Sports

Local News