The city of Ventura eased a hard closure on parks and beaches this week in effort to help residents stay mentally and physically healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Under an amended ordinance, residents can now access the city’s beaches, pier, promenade and parks as long as they keep their distance from one another and remain active. People can walk back and forth on the pier or the sand but are not allowed to sit down, or stand against the railing to fish, for example.
The city’s two golf courses also are slated to open by Friday, with changes that promote physical distancing and limited contact with employees with personal protective equipment, according to city spokeswoman Heather Sumagaysay.
Playgrounds, picnic areas, parking lots, pools and recreational courts and fields will remain closed.
“The city has some of the lowest COVID-19 rates in Ventura County because of the hard work and sacrifices made by our residents,” Ventura Mayor Matt LaVere said in a statement. “We want to provide an opportunity for our community to enjoy our amazing resources in a socially-responsible manner while we continue to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
With a heat wave expected to arrive in Southern California this week, the ordinance includes a three-tiered approach that gives police authority to indefinitely close off an area if visitors ignore rules three times.
For example, if the promenade becomes overcrowded and residents ignore physical distancing guidelines, police can shut down the area for 24 hours. That would be the first strike. A second strike would close the area for 48 hours; a third strike would close it for the remainder of the local emergency.
Ventura County officials also recently amended their Stay Well At Home order, allowing businesses to reopen physical locations with up to 10 workers as long as they did not serve the public. Golf courses and bicycle shops also have been allowed to reopen, along with in-person sales of vehicles.
Dr. Robert Levin, the county’s public health officer, stressed that residents are still required to stay home as much as possible and must practice social distancing when visiting essential businesses.
As of Thursday, Ventura County had reported 451 total coronavirus cases and 14 deaths.