Sitting, sunbathing allowed at Ventura County beaches, parks

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Ventura County officials on Friday further eased restrictions at parks and beaches, allowing sitting and sunbathing after previously reserving those spaces for exercise only.

Contact sports such as soccer and volleyball will not be allowed, however, and residents are asked to stay only with members of their household while outdoors.

Some parking will be allowed along Pacific Coast Highway and popular parks like Foster Park in Ventura and Steckel Park in Santa Paula, said Colter Chisum, deputy director for the county’s parks department.

RV camping at popular Rincon Beach will also reopen this weekend, while other county camping areas will start to reopen in the near future, officials said.

The news came as the city of Ventura earlier this week announced it would allow passive use of its beaches and parks starting Friday.

Additionally, parking lots and public bathrooms at city beaches will begin to reopen gradually, starting with the parking structure on Harbor Boulevard and the Marina Park lot.

Large gatherings will still not be permitted in these areas and social distancing must be followed. Beaches in other cities and operated by the county remain open for active use only.

Paradise Falls in the Thousand Oaks area of Wildwood Regional Park will be closed starting Friday after overcrowding and trash issues.

The county’s stay-at-home order was set to expire Sunday, but officials are expected to expand it while continuing to lift restrictions, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Earlier this week, Ventura County’s public health department allowed car parades for graduations and other celebrations, while participants are still required to follow distancing guidelines and practice safe driving.

Last week, the county was the first in Southern California to get the green light from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office to move into accelerated Phase 2 of the state’s recovery plan. Dine-in restaurants and indoor shopping resumed just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

Most California counties including Ventura County, were allowed to reopen barbershops and hair salons, with modifications, earlier this week.

Neighboring Los Angeles County, which has remained the epicenter of the coronavirus in California, was also allowed to reopen restaurants, barber shops and salons on Friday.

As of Friday, Ventura County had a total of 1,078 coronavirus cases and 33 deaths, according to the public health department. It has the 17th highest number of coronavirus cases among all California counties, according to the L.A. Times.

Nearly 24,000 county residents have been tested after more testing sites opened up and capacity increased.

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