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Bay Area Headlines: Friday, 3/20/20, PM

Coastal crowds / National Parks open and closed / Marijuana sales surge



Coastal crowds

California is much quieter, now that Governor Gavin Newsom directed everybody to stay at home, except when they’re pursuing essential activities, like shopping or picking up prescriptions. But one place that has actually been busier is the beach. San Francisco’s Ocean Beach has been much more crowded than usual, especially at sunset, with people walking or socializing — while maintaining the appropriate six feet of social distancing. And surfing the California coast has seen no noticeable drop in activity. If you’re within six feet of others while you’re surfing, you’re definitely doing it wrong.

National Parks open and closed

In other news, state campgrounds are closed, but most national parks are open. But despite now being free to visit, people may find it more difficult to enjoy them, as parks close visitor centers, shuttles, lodges and restaurants to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

In Northern California, visitor centers at several destinations managed by the park service, such as Muir Woods National Monument, Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge, are closed. Yosemite National Park has closed its campgrounds.

Chris Brunell spent most of the past three weeks camping in Yosemite. He said he was told to pack up and leave Wednesday, two days earlier than he expected.

Brunell was laid off from a Silicon Valley technology job before the outbreak. He said the park emptied noticeably after lodging and restaurants closed on Tuesday.

Marijuana sales surge

And the coronavirus outbreak has set off an unexpected surge in California's legal marijuana market. Companies are reporting big jumps in deliveries and sales, as consumers stock up for lockdowns or simply light up in search of relief during anxious times. Sales are up elsewhere in the country, including in Washington state and Colorado.