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From helicopters and cruisers, police try to keep public off beaches, trails amid coronavirus

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Authorities were out in force Saturday enforcing orders to keep beaches, parks and hiking trails clear as part of unprecedented restrictions on public movements to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Most beaches, trails, recreation facilities as well as nonessential businesses were closed because of the state and local orders, and many obeyed.

A Ventura County Sheriff’s Department cruiser could be seen guarding the entrance to a popular trail in Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks, upon which hundreds of hikers and families descended on Saturday. In Venice, a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter was seen circling a skate park, announcing that people who did not leave the area would be “arrested for trespassing.”

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Despite park and trail closures in Santa Monica, Amy Weber managed to spend her Saturday morning outdoors at a farmers market. Weber said organizers did a good job maintaining enough distance between people inside the market. Waiting in line outside, people smiled and chatted.

“There’s just something about being outside that makes you feel a little bit fresher, cleaner,” she said.

Afterward, Weber walked to Palisades Park, where she spent the late morning taking in views of the ocean. She got to the bottom of the California Incline walkway to the beach and saw a wire chain with a sign saying it was temporarily closed. Below, she saw people biking and walking on the beach path.

By 1 p.m., police vehicles making their way south were slowing near her. Officers announced over an intercom: “We would like to remind you that Palisades Park is closed. Please practice social distancing as you’re exiting the park.”

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Weber was glad for the enforcement, saying she hopes that shutting things down will mean the country recovers from the coronavirus quicker.

“If we keep doing this in tiny little bits and nobody’s adhering to it, I’m just afraid it’s going to continue,” she said.

For now, Weber said she’s content with looking at the beach from afar, smelling the salty air and feeling the ocean breeze.

Residents of other West L.A. neighborhoods were less tranquil Saturday, as power outages continued to cause headaches in parts of Beverlywood, Cheviot Hills, Century City, Pico-Robertson and Westwood. Stella Gardiner, a legal assistant who lives in Pico-Robertson, said she had been dealing with sporadic power outages since Thursday and was growing concerned about how the loss of electricity might affect older residents in her area.

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“There are people with health problems,” she said. “God knows they may have medical equipment they need.”

Most beaches, trails, recreation areas and other points of interest are closed, including trails in Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon Park in Los Angeles. The state has also ordered parking lots closed at dozens of state beaches and parks.

But L.A. officials said it’s fine to walk or jog in your neighborhood or through neighborhood parks as long as people adhere to social-distancing guidelines.


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