Beaches reopen in L.A., Ventura counties after holiday weekend closure

A police officer and a lifeguard boat patrol the shoreline in Venice Beach on July 5.
Peter Gratzinger of Pacific Palisades at Santa Monica State Beach which reopened to the public at 5 a.m. Monday.
(Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Beaches in Los Angeles and Ventura counties reopened Monday after officials closed them ahead of the holiday weekend in an effort to contain the spread of the growing coronavirus outbreak.

The Los Angeles County order, which went into effect July 3, temporarily closed all public beaches, parking lots and access points as well as piers and beach bike paths. The mandate also prohibited public fireworks shows.

“Closing the beaches and prohibiting fireworks displays during this important summer holiday weekend was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but it’s the responsible decision to protect public health and protect our residents from a deadly virus,” said Barbara Ferrer, the director of public health for L.A. County, in a statement last week. “The Fourth of July holiday weekend typically means large crowds and gatherings to celebrate, a recipe for increased transmission of COVID-19.”

No parking signs from the Fourth of July weekend still block spots on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica on Monday.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

All beaches managed by the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors were off-limits over the long weekend, including Marina del Rey harbor. In addition, 25 miles of shoreline along the coast were shuttered, including Malibu and Venice, where some visitors were seen despite the closures. County officials relied on local law enforcement for patrols.

A similar closure went into effect Friday in Ventura County beaches, which also reopened its shores Monday.

Californians hoping the July 4 weekend would bring a return to a semblance of summer fun instead find closed beaches and limited restaurant service.

In the absence of other options, large crowds flocked to San Diego beaches, which remained open, and San Clemente Beach, one of the few in Orange County that did not close.

Ahead of the holiday weekend, state officials also shut down indoor dining at all restaurants in Los Angeles County, among other locales.

VENICE, CA - JULY 05, 2020
A police officer and a lifeguard boat patrol the shoreline in Venice Beach on July 5. Even though the beach was closed over the weekend, a few still made their way to the shore.
(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

On Sunday, L.A. County officials reported 7,232 new COVID-19 cases among Thursday, Friday and Saturday, after recording a backlog in numbers. Friday marked the highest single-day total of new cases in the county, with 3,187. The number of infections in the county has surpassed 115,000, and the death toll is nearing 3,500.