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Runyon Canyon reopens for hiking with new coronavirus safety measures in place

Hikers, rejoice. Los Angeles’ popular Runyon Canyon Park has reopened, with additional measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Park officials have reduced how many people can enter at one time, installed cameras and electric counters to monitor crowds, added additional staff and converted the trail into a one-way loop, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“The new Runyon safety features are not permanent, but will be in place while we live with COVID-19,” he wrote Tuesday night on Twitter. “If it gets too crowded, we will adjust hours or close the trail if necessary. Please use a face covering when near others and ensure six feet of distance with people outside of your home.”

All Los Angeles residents — except for those with certain disabilities and small children — are required to wear masks when going outside.

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Recent weeks have seen a gradual reopening of parks, trails and beaches that were shuttered as the coronavirus pandemic began to rage in the city and county of Los Angeles.

At a press briefing Wednesday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva urged people to wear masks and to practice social distancing so the gradual reopening of Los Angeles County can continue without setbacks.

The Sheriff’s Department surveyed the coast from Santa Monica to Malibu over Memorial Day weekend and found that beachgoers were adhering to social distancing rules.

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“It was a success. Overall, people were respectful,” Villanueva said.

However, officials have also been willing to shut things back down when conditions warrant.

The L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation on Sunday closed another popular hiking destination, the Eaton Canyon Natural Area in Pasadena, “due to overwhelming crowds that were not following the COVID-19 public health requirements.”

Officials have since extended that closure through the end of the month.

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“While we understand that trails are a beloved form of recreation that offers much-needed opportunities for exercise, respite, getting fresh air and connecting with nature, the public did not follow the guidelines required, and it put themselves and staff at risk,” county officials said in a statement.

People should take advantage of the area’s large network of trails and adjust their plans to avoid crowds, Villanueva said.

“If it looks too crowded where you’re going, just turn around and go somewhere else,” he said.

At least two popular areas in Southern California are closing amid increased crowds while stay-at-home orders continue to be relaxed.

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While many outdoor areas of Los Angeles are now available for public use with limitations, indoor parks and recreation facilities — such as gymnasiums and community, aquatic and senior centers — as well as features like playgrounds, fitness equipment and skate parks remain off-limits.

A full list of what’s open and what’s closed is posted on the parks department website.


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