Malibu joins Santa Monica in closing beach parking lots to prevent crowds

Coronavirus
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After a "safer-at-home" order appeared to go unheeded on Southern California's coast over the weekend, county officials on Monday shut down the parking lots at Malibu beaches to discourage large crowds from coming.

Images and videos of large numbers of people at beach communities had surfaced online. One Malibu resident described the scene at Zuma Beach on Saturday as a "zoo."

While Los Angeles County's "safer-at-home" order doesn't prohibit people from spending time outside, it does require individuals to stay at least 6 feet away from others who are not members of their household.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department announced closing Malibu's beach parking lots a day after the city of Santa Monica shut down its own.

In a press conference on Monday, L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer repeated the social distancing guidelines, saying: “It’s inappropriate for people to congregate at parks, beaches, piers or on the trails. You cannot be in spaces and places where you are not able to socially distance."

She added, "We all need to operate with the assumption that there are COVID-19 positive people anywhere, and we all have the potential to infect others or become infected.”

Later Monday, officials announced the closure of all hiking trails in the L.A. County.

"You may walk/run in your neighborhood for fresh air and exercise," said a message on the county's Twitter account.

In Orange County, Newport Beach officials said they were closing playgrounds, fields, dog parks and courts where people play sports.

Federal and state agencies had already restricted access to many local parks and trails, and while officials did not close beaches in Malibu and Santa Monica, they strongly urged people to distance themselves from others as required by local authorities.

Meanwhile, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority indefinitely shut down the dozens of parks it operates across the region.

As of Monday, National Park Service trails remained open in the region—except for Solstice Canyon in Malibu.

In announcing the closure of all beach parking lots in Malibu, the Sheriff's Department said in a Facebook post: "Our intent is to prevent overcrowding of the beaches. Everyone needs to be respectful of others, and practice #SocialDistancing. Not only for your health, but for the health of others, especially those most vulnerable."

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