Runyon Canyon Park has closed amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis after sunny weekend skies drew large crowds to the popular running and hiking destination.
Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu called for the closure of the Hollywood Hills park, saying it is “impossible” for Angelenos to abide by social distancing standards when so many people are out.
“In order to maintain public health, and in line with the social distancing recommendations from top health officials, I believe we must close Runyon Canyon Park and Lake Hollywood Park on weekends,” Ryu wrote in the letter to Mike Shull, general manager of the city’s parks department.
On Wednesday, Ryu confirmed to KTLA that the park was closed indefinitely.
Video from the the park Wednesday morning showed the gates closed as visitors made their way out. Signs adorned a side gate indicating the park was closed.
“Runyon Canyon is one of our city’s greatest treasures,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a daily news conference Wednesday evening. “But with this pandemic we’ve seen, it’s become too dangerous. We saw the images of packed trails over the weekend.”
He added that COVID-19 does not discriminate and that closing Runyon Canyon was the right thing to do.
“Coronavirus does not care if you’re riding the subway, or if you’re out for a hike. If you’re not practicing safe physical distancing, then the case numbers will continue to rise rapidly and you’re more likely to get sick,” the mayor said. “That’s why this morning, we closed Runyon Canyon. It’s not something easy or pleasurable to do, but it’s the right thing to do.”
In a tweet, Garcetti said Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park and the Venice Pier were also closed “to help keep you safe.”
He added during the news conference that the city is considering more closures of outdoor areas, after already shutting down sports facilities at parks across Los Angeles.
Garcetti also addressed rumors that Los Angeles police officers are stopping Angelenos for exercising outside of their home: “That is simply not the case,” he said.
Garcetti encouraged residents to get their exercise while avoiding crowds.
Officials had previously said running, hiking, biking and walking were safe to do during the pandemic, but restrictions have since been tightened.
“Angelenos are safer at home during this emergency, and they should exercise in their own neighborhoods at a proper physical distance from other people,” the mayor said in an earlier statement to KTLA.
Ebony Harvey and a friend went for a run at Runyon Canyon Park Wednesday when they found out it had been closed.
She said it’s important to get exercise during the pandemic.
“For mental health reasons, people need to get out, get fresh air, circulating blood, get exercise — it’s pretty helpful,” Harvey said. “It’s a bummer, but whatever we need to do to keep everyone safe.”
Garcetti ordered the closure of all beach parking lots and golf courses. The cities of Santa Monica and Malibu closed beach parking lots to limit crowds, and Gov. Gavin Newsom closed parking lots of state parks across the state.
Earlier this week, Los Angeles County hiking trails were also closed.