L.A. County reopens beach bike paths and allows indoor mall curbside pickups, car parades

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Los Angeles County officials announced Friday they have reopened beach bike paths and are allowing indoor mall curbside pickups and car parades ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

Beach parking lots will also reopen at partial capacity at Dockweiler State Beach, Will Rogers State Beach, Zuma Beach, and Surfrider Beach. But most public beach lots in coastal communities, including in Santa Monica, will remain closed, authorities said in a news release.

Reopening paths and lots comes ten days after beaches countywide were allowed to reopen for active use, with strict restrictions that call for facial coverings, physical distancing and a ban on gatherings and on bringing items like chairs, umbrellas, canopies, coolers and grills.

“This rounds out the recreational activities now available at the beach to include swimming, surfing running, walking, skating and biking,” County supervisor Kathryn Barger said.

At indoor malls, retail businesses can now run curbside pickups, but all employees and customers must practice social distancing and wear face coverings, officials said. The businesses must also be in compliance with the county’s guidelines for curbside services.

And as students who saw their last year at high schools, universities or colleges upended by the pandemic, officials have allowed graduation celebrations to take place through car parades throughout the county.

“After enduring this year, these students deserve an opportunity to celebrate everything that they have accomplished,” Barger said.

L.A. Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner released a statement saying the district will allow car parade graduation celebrations at its schools.

“As we have said — and have wanted to do all along – we would allow those at our schools to plan celebrations which include gatherings as long as they are in accordance with guidelines from Los Angeles County health authorities,” Beutner said.

While the parades are allowed countywide, everyone participating must wear facial coverings and they can’t be on bikes, motorcycles, in convertible cars or in vehicles without doors.

Designated organizers must adhere to county guidelines on location size, vehicle limits and cannot allow exchanges of any items, officials said.

The car parades can also be organized for birthdays and other celebrations.

While some coronavirus restrictions are slowly being relaxed, gatherings are still not permitted, the county’s public health director Barbara Ferrer reminded residents at a news conference.

“We have seen recent gatherings and parties that have resulted in a number of newly infected people, and we’d like to avoid that as we all get out and about to enjoy all of the beauty that L.A. County has to offer,” Ferrer said.

The county marked a “very sad milestone” Thursday, with the COVID-19 death toll surpassing 2,000, Ferrer said. As of Friday, the county had 2,049 deaths from the respiratory illness, more than half of them living in settings where people are clustered close together.

While the average coronavirus infection rate has dropped to its lowest level yet, L.A. County is still home to 43,052 people who have tested positive for the virus — that’s about half of all of California’s known infections in a county with a quarter of state’s population.

Still, the county has made some progress, with the overall death and hospitalization rates decreasing.

Ferrer said physical distancing efforts have helped slow the infection rate of the coronavirus but the county isn’t out of the woods yet and residents must continue practicing physical distancing and wearing facial coverings.

“The job we do protecting each other affects how many new cases, how many new hospitalizations and how many new deaths we will see several weeks from now,” Ferrer said. “So over the weekend, let’s continue to use all the tools that we have available to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

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