All Los Angeles County beaches are closing temporarily in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases topped 1,400 Friday, officials said.
The countywide closures come after large crowds of beachgoers were seen at beaches last weekend, despite stay-at-home orders and calls for social distancing.
“The crowds we saw at our beaches last weekend were unacceptable,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a written statement. “In order to save lives, beaches in LA County will be temporarily closed.”
The order goes into effect “immediately” and runs through April 19, 2020, according to the L.A. County Department of public health.
Officials said beaches will reopen when public health officials deem it safe.
“We cannot risk another sunny weekend with crowds at the beach spreading this virus,” Hahn said.
In less than a week, confirmed COVID-19 cases in L.A. County have more than tripled, climbing from 409 to 1,465 as of Friday, according to Barbara Ferrer, the director the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
“I ask that you help us by not going to out beaches and not going on our hiking trails at least for the next few weeks while we, again, try desperately to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Ferrer told residents in a news conference Thursday.
The public health order also applies to piers, promenades and beach bike paths and bathrooms across the county, officials said.
County officials have already closed all hiking trails in the L.A. County.
Regional and county parks will remain open as outdoor spaces, but group gatherings of any size are not allowed, L.A. County Board of Supervisors chair Kathryn Barger said at a news conference Friday.
After images of people congregating at beaches began circulating online last weekend, parking lots and amenities at several beaches were closed in an attempt to deter crowds, including in Malibu and Santa Monica.
But L.A. County Department of Beaches & Harbors director Gary Jones said that’s not enough.
“The risk of spreading COVID-19 is too great. Please stay home,” Jones said.
The department will be patrolling the coastline and working with local law enforcement and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to make sure people comply with the new orders, according to Jones.
“I know how hard this is and I know how isolated everyone feels. But we’re in this together,” Ferrer said. “We do it well and we stand a chance at slowing the spread. We don’t do it well and our numbers can exponentially grow each and every day.”