Editorial: L.A.’s trails and parks are reopening. C’mon, people, don’t screw it up this time

Nilou Zonozi, 61, gets some fresh air with her dogs at Burton Chase Park in Marina del Rey.
(Los Angeles Times)

OK, Los Angeles, after a two-month eternity spent huddling at home with the occasional escape to walk around the neighborhood or travel to the grocery store, city and county leaders are reopening some stores, hiking trails and golf courses.

It will be a relief to be outside again. It’s also going to be a nerve-wracking experiment to see whether Angelenos can safely return to some normalcy without triggering a surge of new COVID-19 cases.

Reader, please don’t screw it up.

Don’t crowd the trails. Don’t throw a big party at the park. And for goodness’ sake, wear a mask.


Even as Los Angeles begins to loosen stay-at-home orders, it’s worth remembering that we are nowhere near the end of the pandemic. Los Angeles County has flattened the curve, but the region remains a hot spot for the coronavirus. The county accounts for nearly half of the state’s confirmed infections and the majority of the state’s death toll.

City and county leaders would be well within their rights — and their obligation to protect public health — to again close businesses and open spaces if the number of cases spike and hospitalizations for COVID-19 rapidly increase.

We don’t say this lightly. Angelenos are tired of being cooped up. Businesses are struggling to survive, particularly the nonessential mom-and-pop retailers who have been required to close. And many workers are desperate to get regular paychecks back.


But everyone should be worried about the potential for a second wave of COVID-19 cases, which could prove more deadly than the first and, again, confine people to their homes and shut down the economy.

That’s why the gradual reopening of businesses and public spaces makes sense. Both the county and the city have rolled out similar policies that allow nonessential retailers to reopen, with limits on customer contact. Brick-and-mortar stores — including those that sell toys, music, books, clothing and sporting goods — will be allowed to open for curbside pickup starting Friday. Florists and car dealer showrooms can also open.

As for recreation, golf courses will reopen on Saturday. So will the city’s hiking trails, including those in Griffith Park, and the county’s 600 miles of trails. The extremely popular Runyon Canyon will stay closed. So will L.A. County beaches. Golfers and hikers are required to keep their distance and to wear face coverings. Rangers and police will order scofflaws to cover their faces.

Back in March — which feels like it was two years ago, not two months ago — too many Angelenos ignored pleas to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Instead they crowded the beaches, trails and parks. And the region’s leaders had to close these beloved outdoor spaces. Let’s not repeat that mistake. Enjoy the reopening responsibly this time.