WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION) For Maria Padilla, time with her loved ones is time spent at Valley Catholic Cemetery in Watsonville. "First is my brother, then my daughter and now my mother," said Padilla
It's Padilla's tradition to visit her family members' graves every Dia de los Muertos, but this year it's happening earlier than she planned.
Signs posted around Valley Catholic Cemetery warn visitors that the site will be closed for the long-celebrated holiday. Staff will shut their gates from October 30th through November 2nd to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
"It's not going to be open. That's sad. We're going to have to stay home," said Padilla.
Some cemeteries are taking a more laid back approach and will still allow visitors on the holiday. "Families will be coming. Families, as I mentioned prior, are very loyal. This is a big day for everybody," said Garden of Memories Cemetery manager, Maria Cardenas.
Cardenas said the Salinas cemetery will keep their gates open as long as visitors follow health and safety protocol.
The Monterey County Health Department released the following guidelines for Dia de los Muertos celebrations:
- Don't gather with people outside your household
- Wear a face mask
- Maintain six-feet of distance with others
- Don't share food or drink
"We want to make sure we stay away from getting others exposed to the virus. We are hoping that the community can help us with that," said Cardenas.
Padilla said she will honor her loved ones even through the closure at their cemetery. She has already placed decorations in preparation for the holiday. "Every single year we come here to celebrate. It's sad," said Padilla.
The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History will be offering a number of virtual events in place of traditional Dia de los Muertos celebrations. To learn more, visit: www.santacruzmah.org.