Seal Beach joins other Orange County beaches in reopening for active recreation

Daniel Boyd boogie boards at Seal Beach on Monday, as the city reopened the beach to active use during daylight hours Monday through Thursday
Daniel Boyd boogie boards at Seal Beach on Monday, as the city reopened the beach to active use during daylight hours Monday through Thursday.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Another Orange County beach reopened Monday after officials temporarily cordoned off the coastline in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Like its neighbors farther south, Seal Beach has restored access to its shores for active use — walking, running, swimming, surfing and other activities “where the participant keeps moving along the beach or in the ocean,” according to the city.

More leisurely pursuits, like lounging or sunbathing, are prohibited, as are items that go with those passive pastimes: coolers, blankets, tents, umbrellas and the like.

City officials also warned that there are to be no gatherings of any kind and that beachgoers must maintain appropriate social distancing.

It is an “eerie” day in Seal Beach as businesses struggle to come back and crowds stay away.


Seal Beach reopened to active use
A police officer patrols along Seal Beach, making sure people are not sitting on the sand. Seal Beach reopened to active use during daylight hours Monday through Thursday.
(Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

The sand will be accessible Monday through Thursday during daylight hours.

“We understand how important it is for people to enjoy our beautiful coastline, and this plan will ensure that people have access to the sand and water for active uses while still remaining safe,” Mayor Schelly Sustarsic said in a statement last week.

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a temporary “hard close” of state and local beaches in Orange County on April 30, citing concerns with crowds who had flocked to the coast the previous weekend.

“We want to work very closely with local elected officials, and we’re committed to doing that if we can get some framework and guidelines to get this right,” Newsom said at the time. “We can reopen very, very quickly but ... we’ve got to make sure we get this right.”

Though some strongly disputed that conditions at the local beaches warranted such an aggressive response, Orange County cities sent plans to the state outlining how they would gradually reopen their beaches.

Many Orange County beaches have reopened following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s brief “hard closure,” but their hours vary.

Every coastal city there, as well as the county itself, has since received state approval to reopen their shores for active recreation.

Seal Beach’s plan, which it calls “Beach in Motion,” is broken into four phases, with restrictions gradually vanishing as conditions warrant.

Ahead of the beach’s reopening Monday, the Seal Beach Police Department posted answers to frequently asked questions on its Facebook page. Among those was, “What if I’m sitting on the beach, will you give me a ticket?”

“Thankfully in our line of work, we are given discretion,” department officials wrote. “Could we write a citation? Sure. Could we give someone a warning? Absolutely. It depends on the situation.”

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Police also pointed out that the city’s pier remains closed.

“Hopefully, people continue to be respectful of the ‘Beaches in Motion’ plan and understand that if we succeed in keeping gatherings down, we all win. ... These plans are adaptive and can literally change overnight for better or for worse,” department officials said.