Officials express concern as many flock to the coast, forest in 1st holiday weekend during pandemic: Officials

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Officials said some L.A. area-beaches attracted larger crowds than others Saturday, but none saw any major issues as Angelenos entered the first holiday weekend since Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide stay-at-home order in March due to the pandemic.

In Santa Monica, many took advantage of the bike paths that just reopened Friday—10 days after the county allowed beach access for active recreation following weeks of closure.

Beach parking lots in the city and in other coastal communities remain indefinitely closed, with the exception of the lots at Dockweiler State Beach, Will Rogers State Beach, Zuma Beach and Surfrider Beach, which are operating at partial capacity.

On Friday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti acknowledged that “beaches are such an iconic part of who we are,” but warned the public against crowding the coast.

Louisa Paul, an L.A. resident who visited Santa Monica Beach on Saturday, said she expected people to be cautious. But many beachgoers were not wearing masks, she said.

Santa Monica police Lt. Michael Federico told KTLA the crowds were not as large as expected, and that officers are mainly serving in an “educational capacity.”

Redondo Beach also saw crowds lighter than anticipated, according to local police.

But less than 2 miles north, in Hermosa Beach, police reported a busier scene.

Officers had to advise some beachgoers against drinking and ask them to maintain spatial awareness, Hermosa Beach police Sgt. Jonathan Sibbald told KTLA. But no major incidents occurred, he said.

Officials elected to shut down the hiking trails and natural areas in Eaton Canyon above Altadena on Sunday through Memorial Day “due to overwhelming crowds that were not following the COVID-19 public health requirements,” the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation said in a written statement.

A Twitter user posted a video stating it had been shot Saturday at Eaton Canyon. It showed dozens of people crowded near a waterfall in close proximity to one another.

In Orange County, officials with Seal Beach and Huntington Beach said visitors followed rules.

In addition to remaining on the move, authorities are asking beachgoers to wear masks when out of the water and keep at least 6 feet away from others.

The warnings come as L.A. County continues to report a disproportionate amount of California’s COVID-19 cases.

L.A. County health officials reported 940 new detected infections and 14 new deaths on Sunday. The new data brings the the total number of infections detected in the county to 44,988, and the total number of deaths to 2,104.

L.A. County accounted for nearly half the 92,710 infections and more than half of the 3,774 deaths reported statewide as of Sunday.

So while surrounding counties have announced the reopening of more businesses, L.A. County does not plan to follow suit until at least July 4th.

“The virus has not changed, and it’s still relatively easy to become infected,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s top health officer, said Friday. “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.”

She added, “The job we do protecting each other affects how many cases, how many new hospitalizations and how many new deaths we will see several weeks from now.”

KTLA’s Brian Day contributed to this report.

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