Beach closure sign April 2020 coronavirus

LA County beaches, including Torrance Beach, closed to the public on March 27, 2020. (Photo by Lisa Jacobs)

Folks who visit Los Angeles County beaches, which reopen Wednesday, will have to wear face coverings when not in the water, officials said Monday, May 11.

The county’s beaches are set to open on Wednesday for active uses only, meaning people can run or walk along the shoreline; they can also swim or surf, but can’t sunbathe, play volleyball or gather at the beaches.

But when they are not in the water and are around other people, beach-goers will have to wear masks, said Nicole Mooradian, spokesperson for LA County Department of Beaches and Harbors.

The face covering requirement, Mooradian added, includes runners and surfers on land, to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which forced public officials to close the beaches in March.

“People who plan to run,” Mooradian said, “should run with a mask that they can easily pull over their nose and mouth when they come into proximity of other people.”

Surfers, meanwhile, would do best to leave their face coverings on the shore and put it on after exiting the water.

Surfers who do not bring a mask have the option of staying 10 feet from others as they cross and exit the beach, Mooradian said.

Beaches and Harbors, in fact, has recommended increasing social distance from 6 feet to 10 feet when running, Mooradian said.

“If you’re breathing harder,” she said, “there’s more a chance of droplets spreading.”

Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand, in a Facebook post, said Monday the Department of Beaches and Harbors will post signs at the beaches listing phase one rules.

The signs, according to Brand’s post, will say these are allowed during phase one:

  • Surfing;
  • Swimming; and
  • Running and walking

The signs will say these are not permitted during phase one:

  • Gathering;
  • Sitting;
  • Picnicking;
  • Camping;
  • Bringing coolers;
  • Biking; and
  • Volleyball.

If parents want to take small children to the beach, Mooradian said, they can get into the water with them, but cannot linger.

“Anything that looks like leisure activity, such as sitting stationary for a long period of time, is against the rules,” said Mooradian, adding people wanting to hang out must wait until phase two, when small gatherings will be permitted.

The Strand, the piers, bike path, Esplanade and concrete walkways will remain closed during this initial phase, but may open during phase two, officials have said. Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach parking lots will remain closed, according to officials.

Hermosa Beach, which owns its beach, will following the county’s orders and open its stretch of shoreline. Hermosa Beach parking lots will be open, but with time limits to discourage all-day activity.

“We know how important the beach is to our community,” City Manager Suja Lowenthal said in a statement Monday. “And with everyone’s responsible use of the beach during this phase, we look forward to resuming additional beach activities.”

Long Beach, which also owns its beaches, has yet to say when it will reopen the shoreline there. But the city did open the beach bike and pedestrian path on Monday.

In the South Bay, meanwhile, Brand, on his Facebook page, asked people to adhere to social distancing restrictions.

“If the Governor or county health department see pictures of us not social distancing,” Brand said, “they can and will close us down as they did in Orange County. So please, hit the beach, do your thing, and leave.”

LA County Health Director Barbara Ferrer emphasized that restrictions, such as social distancing and face covering requirements, exist to ensure beaches don’t get too crowded and that people keep moving.

“We only can do this with everyone’s cooperation,” Ferrer said Monday. “It will be impossible to do this without that in a county this large.”

Officials will add directives every step of the reopening process, Ferrer said.

“We will be telling people what we need to do to stay safe,” she added.

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