Those hoping to escape to the beach this weekend after being pent up at home are out of luck.
On Friday, Los Angeles County ordered the closure of beaches and hiking trails, hoping to avoid the crowds that could cause the spread of the coronavirus.
State and local officials had previously ordered the closure of beach parking lots. But they decided on Friday to ratchet up the restrictions, as the number of cases continues to climb rapidly.
“It is crucial that we limit access to non-essential places where crowds have been gathering,” said Barbara Ferrer, the director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health. “I know how hard this is, and I know how isolated everyone feels, but we’re in this together.”
Restrooms and bike trails on the beach will also be closed, as will beach access points. Some county parks will remain open. Ferrer advised people to stay at home as much as possible, and to continue to stay distanced from people when they do go out.
The city of Los Angeles will also close Venice Beach and Cabrillo Beach, in San Pedro, said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“We will make sure that is the law and that is enforced,” Garcetti said at a press conference on Friday. “99.99% of this can be done without any criminal penalty, but we’re prepared if anybody is an outlier, because one person can be a superspreader. One person can kill someone.”
The county announced that five additional people have died of the virus in the county since Thursday, and that 257 new cases have been diagnosed.
Ferrer said that cases have tripled in L.A. County in the last six days, and are likely to double every four to six days. While noting that data is unreliable at this point due to scarce testing, she said it would not be unreasonable to expect cases to continue to increase for the next two to three weeks.