This sign in Hermosa Beach Pier reminds citizens to keep social distance during the coronavirus pandemic in Hermosa Beach on Thursday, March 26, 2020. (Photo by Brittany Murray, , ZPPress-Telegram/SCNG)

Hermosa Beach will close to the public its 2-mile long beach and adjacent walkway, the Strand, beginning Saturday, March 28, it was announced today.

The extreme measure was taken to protect the public from the novel coronavirus after large groups of people gathered on the beach and Strand last weekend, said the city in a statement. A three-level municipal parking structure at Hermosa Avenue and 13th street will also be closed starting Saturday, said the city.

The closures will remain in effect until the city has determined it is safe to re-open, according to the statement. 

Street sweeping will not be enforced in the city to ensure residents have enough street parking as many are working from home, said a city spokesperson via email.

Hermosa Beach is one of the few city-owned beaches in Los Angeles county and closing it to pedestrians effectively removes the thoroughfare from county-owned beaches of Manhattan Beach to the north and Redondo Beach to the south. 

“We understand the desire to be outside and in nature is more powerful than ever,” said Hermosa Beach City Manager Suja Lowenthal. “While most people are staying home to slow the spread of COVID-19, the actions of a few who choose not to follow the rules can cost the lives of many. The sooner we close the beach and Strand, the better our chance to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

San Diego, Laguna Beach and several other Southern California communities have also announced beach closures. Santa Monica, the city of Los Angeles and Manhattan Beach recently closed its beachfront parking lots.

The gatherings increased the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) because people were unable to maintain the required distance of a least six feet from people who are not members of their household, according to the city.

Public health experts have reported that the virus can spread exponentially in groups, and the virus can remain on surfaces of such things as benches, railings and outdoor equipment for up to 72 hours.

“The Governor has said that people can still take short walks and enjoy other activities as long as they avoid congregating with people who are not members of their own households,” said Lowenthal.

Lowenthal said the closures were needed to ensure compliance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Stay at Home” order.

City staff will be erecting signs and barriers at access points to the beach and Strand over the next two days, and the Hermosa Beach Police Department will be patrolling the beach to enforce the closures.

“We are hoping for voluntary compliance, and police officers will initially be informing the public about the closures,” said Hermosa Beach Interim Police Chief Michael McCrary.

“But police officers will start writing citations and imposing fines, if needed, to keep the public safe," McCrary said. "These closures apply to everyone because the beach belongs to all Californians, and the police cannot effectively enforce limited access for just local residents or select groups to use the beach and Strand.”

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