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California

Manhattan Beach issues 129 citations for coronavirus social-distancing violations

Manhattan Beach Pier
Manhattan Beach police maintain a presense at the Manhattan Beach Pier on April 7, 2020. The city announced last week, a zero tolerance policy on social distancing.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Authorities in Manhattan Beach issued 129 citations and shut down four construction projects over the weekend, citing violations related to social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Manhattan Beach City Council passed an ordinance last month requiring residents, visitors and businesses to adhere to certain social-distancing requirements recommended by state and county health officials, including maintaining a distance of six feet from other people when in public. The ordinance also banned gatherings of two or more people.

Those cited over the weekend face a fine of up to $1,000. Construction sites that do not adhere to the rules face fines and closure, according to the city.

 Manhattan Beach police cruiser
A runner passes near a parked Manhattan Beach police cruiser in Manhattan Beach, where the city announced a zero tolerance policy on social distancing.
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)
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“It is imperative that we continue to remind our community in the strongest possible terms that social distancing requirements must be followed. Those who are not taking this seriously will be cited,” Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery said in a prepared statement. “Social distancing is a crucial step that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

City officials say they have taken a zero-tolerance approach to enforcement given the serious potential health consequences of not observing social distancing. Last month, a surfer in Manhattan Beach was fined $1,000 after he was accused of ignoring warnings by police and lifeguards not to go in the water.

The city’s announcement comes as officials across California continue to urge people to stay inside in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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With more than 16,000 confirmed cases across the state, chances of exposure are increasing rapidly. Officials, who expect that the peak of the outbreak will not be reached until mid-May, continue to voice concerns about the possibility of hospitals being overwhelmed if people do not practice social distancing.

In Los Angeles County, health officials urged residents this week to go as far as avoiding shopping in order to stay inside. County officials Monday confirmed 15 more coronavirus-linked deaths, bringing the county’s total to 147, as the number of confirmed cases topped 6,000. Manhattan Beach has 48 confirmed cases of the virus, according to health officials.

The crackdown on violations of the state’s stay-at-home order has escalated across Southern California in recent days.

A paddle boarder was arrested last week near the Malibu Pier after ignoring lifeguards’ orders to get out of the ocean despite beach closures.

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Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Monday that officers have filed 37 complaints against businesses that have not complied with the city’s orders to close amid the outbreak. Those will lead to fines and potential criminal prosecutions, Moore said.

Last week, Los Angeles prosecutors filed criminal charges against two smoke shops, a shoe store and a discount electronics retailer, accusing them of refusing to shut down.

“This is not just irresponsible,” Moore said. “It is not only endangering themselves but their employees and everyone else in that community and I am proud of City Atty. [Mike] Feuer and of his work and the prosecution of those individuals.”

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Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.


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