Officials to further ease restrictions at Ventura city beaches and parks starting Friday

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People enjoy the less restricted beachfront in Ventura on May 24, 2020. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

People enjoy the less restricted beachfront in Ventura on May 24, 2020. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

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While many parks and beaches in Ventura County have been open for active use for weeks, Ventura city officials will begin to further ease restrictions at their outdoor spaces starting Friday.

“Passive” activities such as sitting and sunbathing will be allowed “as long as the public maintains a safe physical distance of six feet and avoids congregating in large groups outside of their immediate household,” city officials said in a news release Wednesday.

Group activities including volleyball, football, soccer, and other contact sports, however, will not be allowed. Playgrounds, pools, courts, indoor facilities like museums and visitor centers, and sports and recreational fields will also remain closed.

In addition, bathrooms and parking lots at Ventura parks and beaches will also gradually reopen, starting with the Harbor Boulevard parking structure at the Ventura Pier. Public bathrooms will be cleaned daily and high touch surfaces properly disinfected regularly, officials said.

If a park or beach becomes overcrowded, the Ventura Police Department may order the area to be closed, officials said.

The Ventura City Council unanimously voted to lift more restrictions on Tuesday.

“The City wants to provide an opportunity for our residents to recreate responsibly this summer while supporting our local business community as they reopen throughout Ventura,” Ventura City Manager Alex McIntyre said in the news release. “The gradual reopening of city parks and beaches is another positive step forward as we work together to reopen gradually, cautiously, and successfully with community members, businesses and government agencies.”

As of Tuesday, Ventura County has a total of 1,017 coronavirus cases and 32 deaths. County Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas has said that the uptick in cases is likely because of increased testing capacity countywide.

Any county resident can get tested at two county locations; no appointment is needed at three drive-up testing sites and seven sites are available for testing with pre-screening and appointment. Click here for a complete list of testing locations in Ventura County.

Last week, the county became the first in Southern California to receive approval from the state to reopen dine-in restaurants and in-store shopping.

More have taken the next step since then, and Gov. Gavin Newsom this week said 47 counties can reopen barbershops and hair salons with modifications, and church services can resume.

Also on Wednesday, Ventura County’s public health department allowed car line celebrations for graduations, birthdays and other occasions.

Physical distancing and safe driving are among the requirements for the celebrations, and those experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms must stay home, officials said.

A full list of guidelines and safety protocols for car lines can be found here.

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