Los Angeles County is set to lift the closure of area beaches that was put in place more than a month ago, though some restrictions will remain in place to help thwart the spread of COVID-19.
Starting Wednesday, local beaches will be open again, but only for recreational use and exercise, according to the L.A. County Department of Beaches and Harbors.
Permitted activities include walking, running, swimming and surfing. However, things like biking and beach volleyball are prohibited under the rules.
Beachgoers must also wear a facial covering when out of the water and around others, as well as maintain six feet of physical distancing from others outside of their immediate household, the department said Monday.
To discourage sunbathing, gatherings and picnics, people will not be allowed to lie or sit on the sand, nor will they be able to bring items such as coolers, umbrellas and canopies.
Parking lots will remain closed, as will bike paths, piers and boardwalks.
L.A. county is responsible for managing and operating 20 beaches along a third of the county’s 75-mile mainland coast, from Malibu to the South Bay.
Department spokeswoman Nicole Mooradian told KTLA last week that the next phase will possibly include parking lots partially reopening and beachgoers being allowed to bring chairs and umbrellas.
That could come after six weeks, depending on whether people follow the guidelines and if overcrowding isn’t an issue, she said.
With L.A. County accounting for roughly half of all coronavirus cases and deaths in California, officials emphasized that the reopening process will be slow-going and include restrictions to deter massive crowds, which by extension will hopefully curb the virus’ spread.
“We’ll have to pay a lot of attention to what that means in a county with as many people, with 10 million people,” county health director Barbara Ferrer said at a news conference Monday. “Like, are we able to keep our beaches from getting crowded? Are we able to keep people moving? Are we able to have all of us wear our face coverings when we’re going to and from places where they’re going to be other people?”
By instituting restrictive measures, officials are seeking to avoid a repeat of the situation in neighboring Orange County, where beaches were temporarily ordered shut by Gov. Gavin Newsom after the first heat wave of the year enticed many to the coastline to cool down.
“We hope that people don’t stampede the beaches,” Mooradian said.
L.A. County’s guidelines are not too different from the ones submitted by Orange County coastal cities and approved by Newsom’s administration last week to reopen beaches in the area, from Huntington Beach to San Clemente. Those plans also included limiting use to just physical activities and exercise.