Hermosa Beach will close to the public its 2-mile long beach and popular adjacent walkway, the Strand, beginning Saturday, March 28, city officials announced Wednesday, March 25.

The city will take this step to further protect the public from the spread of the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, after large groups of people gathered on the beach and the Strand last weekend, the city said in a statement. A three-level municipal parking structure at Hermosa Avenue and 13th Street will also close starting Saturday.

All of the closures will begin at 6 a.m.

The closures will remain in effect until Hermosa Beach has determined it is safe to reopen, the statement said.

Street sweeping will not be enforced in the city to ensure residents have enough street parking, as many are working from home, Hermosa Beach spokeswoman Laura Mecoy said via email.

Hermosa Beach has one of the few city-owned beaches in Los Angeles County and closing it to pedestrians will effectively remove it as a thoroughfare between the 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, Manhattan Beach and Long Beach recently closed its beachfront parking lots.

The recent gatherings increased the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus because people were unable to maintain the required distance of a least 6 feet from those 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 such as benches, railings and outdoor equipment for up to 72 hours.

There have now been 799 confirmed coronavirus cases and 13 deaths countywide as of Wednesday; the death toll, though, no longer includes a 17-year-old Lancaster boy, county public health officials said Wednesday, because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was still investigating it.

Those officials also announced 138 new cases Wednesday, though that doesn’t include 13 new Long Beach cases. They also reported 17 cases of coronavirus in Manhattan Beach as of Wednesday, up from 11 the day before. But because the county reports only totals for cities and Los Angeles neighborhoods with populations greater than 25,000 — and combines totals for smaller areas with the geographically closest city — it’s possible the Manhattan Beach total includes some cases from Hermosa Beach.

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms associated with the respiratory disease, which appear two-to-14 days after exposure, include fever, a cough and shortness of breath. While the virus poses a potential danger no matter a person’s age, most people — particularly healthy young adults — will experience mild symptoms; still, the disease can have severe symptoms and, as the rising death toll indicates, prove fatal, especially among the elderly and those with underlying health problems.

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

Lowenthal said the closures were needed to ensure compliance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order.

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

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

“But police officers will start writing citations and imposing fines, if needed, to keep the public safe,” McCrary added. “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.”

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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