With Fourth of July fireworks shows and parades being canceled to stop the spread of COVID-19, Bay Area officials are asking residents around the region to safely celebrate at home during the holiday weekend.
Alameda County interim health officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said gathering with people from outside their own household carries too much risk, given the virus' ability to be spread before a carrier has symptoms or even when they don't feel sick. Moss said that staying home is the healthiest choice on Independence Day.
"We can all help protect our families, friends and neighbors by celebrating the Fourth of July at home this year,” Moss said. “Cases and hospitalizations are rising across the region and COVID-19 spreads most easily when people who don’t live together gather in groups.”
For that reason, health officers recommend that people who don't live in the same household avoid gathering. Residents must also continue to wear face coverings or masks when outside their home, stay physically distant from people outside their own household, and stay home as much as possible.
To discourage large gatherings over the Fourth of July weekend, fireworks displays throughout the entire Bay Area have been cancelled, including in the Tri-Valley.
Some local parks and trails are open this weekend but many of their facilities will be unavailable. The swim area and boat ramp at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area will be closed, and the main entrance at Stanley Boulevard has walk-in access only.
Trail access to Del Valle Regional Park is also only available at the top of Del Valle Road, and there is no walk-in access to the recreation area of the park. Swimming is also prohibited and the boat ramp is closed. The park's day-use area, campground and Visitor Center also remain closed, but the Arroyo Staging Area will be open.
The Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve Visitor Center is also closed, and no swimming there is allowed.
Though residents may be tempted to celebrate the nation's birth with a colorful bang, most Tri-Valley communities have banned all fireworks including the "Safe and Sane" variety. Dublin residents are allowed to use Safe and Sane fireworks, however, but only at private residences. They are also prohibited from using fireworks at any city park, facility, business park, school, or multi-housing property.
More Fourth of July festivities and events have been canceled this year but more bars and restaurants are open for take-out and delivery, and local law enforcement said it is "making it that much more important" to keep an eye out for intoxicated driving.
“We are all anxious to get out and return to some sense of normalcy,” said Livermore police traffic Sgt. Glen Robbins. “But that doesn’t excuse forgetting how to be safe on the road by driving impaired.”
Livermore police said they will have extra officers on patrol on July 4, which falls on a Saturday this year, and other local departments are expected to follow suit.
Officials are reminding the public that impaired driving includes alcohol as well as some prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs that may interfere with driving. Driving under the influence of marijuana is also illegal, whether for medicinal or recreational use.