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Some beaches are open during the heat wave. But coronavirus rules apply

Officials in San Clemente voted Tuesday to allow “active recreation” at city beaches.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

With hot weather blanketing Southern California this weekend, officials are urging residents to keep up with social distancing measures and avoid trips — especially to the beach.

“A day or two of fun, leading to weeks more of us being in our homes and not being able to go out, simply isn’t worth it,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday.

Record-high temperatures were reported Friday at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport, where a high of 99 degrees broke the old record of 93 degrees set in 1965, and at UCLA, where a recording of 87 degrees broke the old record of 86 set in 2001.

Temperatures tied records in downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach, Camarillo, Woodland Hills and Paso Robles, the National Weather Service said.

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Saturday is expected to be a few degrees cooler, with downtown L.A. reaching a high of about 90 degrees, but still above the normal high for this time of year, which is about 74, said Mike Wofford, a meteorologist with the weather service in Oxnard.

Things are expected to cool off Saturday night, but temperatures will remain above normal, in the 80s, for the next seven days, Wofford said.

Officials are concerned the heat wave could lead to the crowding of outdoor spaces, making it difficult for people to avoid close contact with others.

Social distancing has helped slow the spread of coronavirus, and early stay-at-home orders in California have meant fewer deaths compared with hot spots like New York, experts say.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom said those who do choose to be outdoors should visit only open locations and ensure they remain physically separated from others, as they’ve done since he imposed a statewide stay-at-home order five weeks ago. If they don’t, Newsom said, he fears he’ll soon be reporting a surge in the number of cases.

“I don’t think anybody wants to hear that. I don’t want to share that information. But that’s really less up to me, it’s more up to all of you,” he said.

This weekend, most beaches, including many of those operated by the state, remain closed. And even at the ones that are open, strict social distancing rules apply and parking lots may be closed. Many Ventura and Orange county beaches are open, but officials wary of a crush of visitors have urged outsiders not to visit.

Los Angeles County

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Local, state and federal agencies continue to enforce closures or severely limited access at hundreds of beaches, parks, trails and forests, though policies and enforcement vary.

L.A. Police Chief Michel Moore called on Angelenos to resist the urge to head for forbidden beaches and trails as temperatures are expected to surpass 90 degrees in the coming days.

“Avoid those nonessential activities,” Moore said. “Save the awkwardness of us having to admonish you.”

As an alternative to outdoor spaces for those who need to escape the heat, county officials opened emergency cooling centers, which will operate from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

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In a news release Friday, officials emphasized that the cooling centers are for vulnerable populations, including older residents and those without air conditioning.

Visitors are required to wear a face covering and practice social distancing. .

The centers are located at Lincoln Heights Recreation Center, Colonel Leon Washington Park in South Los Angeles, Whittier Community Center, Mid-Valley Senior Center in Panorama City, Robert M. Wilkinson Multipurpose Center in Northridge, Sherman Oaks East Valley Adult Center, Jocelyn Center in Alhambra, Buena Vista Library in Burbank, Robinson Park Community Center in Pasadena and El Cariso Community Regional Park in Sylmar.

Orange County

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Orange County officials debated closing beaches and hiking trails during the heat wave after coastal residents raised concerns about out-of-towners descending on their communities in droves.

Since surrounding counties have completely shuttered their beaches, Orange County has been inundated with people from L.A. and San Diego counties and the Inland Empire, Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said this week.

Officials ultimately decided to keep beaches open but left in place parking restrictions that will reduce access. Some cities, including Laguna Beach and Seal Beach, have closed the stretches of sand in their jurisdiction.

Officials in San Clemente voted this week to begin allowing “active recreation,” i.e., no sunbathing, at city beaches and coastal trails this weekend. Parking access will be limited, however.

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Laguna Beach beaches remain closed.

San Diego County

County officials on Friday lifted restrictions on ocean access, paving the way for cities to reopen their beaches as soon as Monday.

The change reopens the ocean to swimming, surfing, kayaking and paddleboarding. It does not apply to state beaches, and parking lots will remain closed.

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Group activities and boating will remain banned. While residents can walk and run along the beach, they cannot sit or lie down.

Ventura County

The city of Ventura eased its hard closure on parks and beaches this week in an effort to help residents stay mentally and physically healthy amid the 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.

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County beaches are also open.


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