A trail closed in the Cleveland National Forest. Courtesy National Forest Service

All public parking lots at parks and beaches in the city of San Diego are closed Monday to discourage gatherings and encourage social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

City officials took the step Sunday in response to crowds gathering over the weekend.

“Public health officials are clear that gatherings of any size can lead to the spread of COVID-19, which is why they continue to be prohibited everywhere, including at beaches and parks,” San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell said in a statement Sunday. “Local and state rules limiting groups have been in effect for days, so this should not be a surprise to anyone.”

Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland said people can still walk, run or ride a bike, as long as they abide by social distancing rules, which advise people to stay 6 feet away from others.

In East County, the National Forest Service closed the popular Three Sisters and Cedar Creek Falls trails in the Cleveland National Forest, citing both large numbers of people and hiking accidents.

“This weekend, we saw the highest usage numbers EVER at both Three Sisters and Cedar Creek Falls. Illegal parking was rampant and several people had to be airlifted out. For the sake of hiker and first responder safety, these trails will be closed until further notice,” the forest service said in a tweet.

State and local officials have urged Californians to get out and get exercise during the stay-at-home order, but said groups should be limited to family units.

— From Staff and Wire Reports

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.