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California

Avoid weekend trips and summer vacations for now, California health officials say

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One day after Newport Beach opened up its beaches to recreational activities, dozens of surfers took to the water at the Newport Pier in Newport Beach on May 7.
(Raul Roa/Los Angeles Times)

As Americans start planning summer vacations, health officials in California urged the public to not take leisure trips, including weekend trips, in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.

“We are, in fact, asking people in our health officer order to avoid nonessential travel and we would ask that our neighbors across the state and across the country do the same,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County. “There’s probably very few places in the world right now that would like to see travel into their communities.”

There is no mandatory 14-day mandatory quarantine for visitors coming to California, as is the case in Hawaii, which is punishable by a $5,000 fine and a year in imprisonment.

But Ferrer requested that people coming to L.A. County “do self-quarantine when you come in [and] you do keep yourself away from other people … for that 14-day period.”

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The San Francisco director of public health, Dr. Grant Colfax, echoed his L.A. County counterpart.

“It’s best for people to limit their travel to essential travel. This is not the time to go on a trip for recreation or vacation, even to visit family and friends,” Colfax said.

The latest maps and charts on the spread of COVID-19 in California.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin offered a different message in an interview on Fox Business Network, where he said President Trump was looking at ways to stimulate travel.

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“We want people to travel safely, to be able to visit places safely,” Mnuchin said. “This is a great time for people to explore America. A lot of people haven’t seen many parts of America.”

The suggestions come as officials are slowing trying to ease stay-at-home rules.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that while there are signs of progress, such as a modest decrease in patients in intensive care, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths remains an obstacle.

“We’re still seeing lives lost from this pandemic,” he said. “It is absolutely incumbent on all of us to be thoughtful and judicious as we move into this next phase.”

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California over the last few days has allowed some retail businesses to reopen for curbside service, and local governments have allowed many beaches and trails to reopen with social distancing.

Los Angeles County beaches, which have been closed since late March, will reopen Wednesday with some new rules.

Surfing, swimming, running and walking will be allowed. Biking, playing volleyball, sitting, sunbathing and picnicking will be banned. Coolers and canopies are not allowed. Parking lots, bike paths, piers and boardwalks will remain closed.

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Everyone will be required to wear masks and stay at least six feet away from others, officials said.

Crowds did not storm newly reopened businesses, trailheads and parks, Ferrer said. Of 410 reopened businesses surveyed, 162 were found to be in violation, and some were instructed to close.


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