What’s open and closed in SoCal under state’s latest COVID rules
The calendar may have changed but COVID-19 restrictions haven’t let up in 2021.
The state on Jan. 6 asked residents to stay home, specifically within 120 miles of where they live. The spike in coronavirus cases and the arrival of a new, more contagious strain of the virus prompted the action. And Tuesday the Centers for Disease Control announced it will require international air travelers, including Americans returning home from another country, to present a negative COVID-19 test starting Jan. 26.
In Southern California, the Santa Monica Pier is now closed to pedestrians and cars on Saturdays and Sundays for at least the month of January. It will remain open on weekdays until 10 p.m. The pier’s amusement park and merry-go-round have been closed for several months.
Boats rides from Ventura to Channel Islands National Park have been temporarily suspended, and service to Catalina Island has been cut back. Also, campgrounds at many national forests in California will remain closed.
The governor’s earlier regional order forbids nonessential travel, defined as vacation or recreational travel. Whether outdoors or indoors, you can gather only with members of your household. Also, hair and nail salons and family entertainment centers will remain shuttered. Retail businesses are limited to 20% capacity, 35% for grocery stores.
The list below summarizes the status of many California public and private spaces, including campgrounds and reservation casinos.
Those who thought about heading to Channel Islands National Park will need to postpone. Island Packers, the main transportation provider to the park, suspended trips to the islands on Dec. 21, citing California’s tough COVID-19 restrictions. The Ventura-based company’s website notes that all trips “have been temporarily suspended until further notice.” However, you may make reservations for mid-February and early March.
Catalina Express reduced operations amid health orders from the governor and L.A. County. Boat trips from San Pedro and Dana Point to Catalina Island have been indefinitely suspended. Two round trips per day are offered from Long Beach to Avalon. Onboard galleys are closed, and passengers with take-out food will not be allowed to eat or drink onboard.
Many whale-watching boats in L.A., Orange and San Diego counties are sailing, with limited capacity. This is the most popular time of year to see gray whales along the coast on their annual migration from Alaska to breeding grounds in Mexico.
Other restrictions for Southern California:
Public playgrounds remain open.
Cardrooms, indoor and outdoor, remain closed.
These places (mostly outdoors) remain open: beaches; piers (except for the weekend Santa Monica pier closure); skate parks; some campgrounds; community gardens; drive-in theaters; golf courses; outdoor places of worship; hotels; batting cages; go-karts; miniature golf courses; tennis, bocce and pickleball courts; outdoor pools; and shooting and archery ranges.
These options (mostly indoors) are off the table: indoor and outdoor dining rooms and patios (takeout is OK); arcades; bowling alleys; movie theaters; bars and distilleries (except for retail sales); nightclubs, live performance theaters and concert venues; museum, gallery and aquarium interiors; indoor places of worship; stadiums and arenas; theme/amusement/water parks (more on that later); and basketball and volleyball courts.
Face coverings and distancing in public are mandatory; public health officials urge all to wash their hands often.
The renewal comes at a tense, in-between moment in the pandemic battle. With vaccinations beginning for frontline medical workers and others, many say the U.S. is now in the closing stretch of a marathon fight. But in many areas, coronavirus infection and death rates are higher than they’ve ever been. Moreover, many people traveled over the Christmas holiday despite warnings not to, leading to worries that hospital conditions could get even worse.
Parks, trails and playgrounds
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• Campgrounds at 12 national forests in California will remain closed through Jan. 29, including Angeles, Cleveland, Eldorado, Inyo and Los Padres forests in Southern California.
• San Bernardino National Forest, except for the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, also because of recent wildfires.
• Federal and state parklands in the Santa Monica Mountains for day use, though some picnic tables and water fountains may not be available.
• Griffith Park. Miles of hiking trails and acres of grass. Some Griffith Park features remain closed, including Griffith Observatory and Travel Town. But the park pony ride is open to children ages 1 to 14.
• Elysian Park in L.A. (Most L.A.-area parks remain open.)
• Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills. (Picnic tables and drinking fountains are not available.)
• Hollywood’s popular Runyon Canyon Park is open with limits. Visitors may complete a one-way loop on the West Trail; the East Trail is closed.
Botanic gardens and zoos
Botanic gardens are limited to 50% capacity under the most recent rules. You’ll need to have an advance reservation before you go.
• The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Griffith Park is closed. Info: L.A. Zoo
• Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations are required (except for members); tickets cost $15. Info: Descanso Gardens
• The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last entry 4:30 p.m.). Reservations are required; tickets cost $15 each. Members may show their card and get in free. Info: The Arboretum
• South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last entry 4:30 p.m.). Reservations are required; tickets cost $15 each. Members may show their card and get in free. Info: South Coast Botanic Garden
• The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino has its outdoor spaces open. If you want to visit, you must make a reservation (even members). Tickets cost $25 to $29 for adults; open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Indoor spaces are closed. Info: The Huntington
• The Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar requires reservations. Its gardens are open from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; tickets cost $5. Info: Sherman Library & Gardens
• The California Botanic Garden in Claremont requires reservations. Garden hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Tickets/reservations cost $10. Info: California Botanic Garden
Your favorite roller coasters and other rides at theme parks are closed, but Orange County parks have partially reopened for dining and shopping.
• Disneyland Resort hotels remain closed indefinitely, as do the theme parks in Anaheim. However, Downtown Disney District shops and restaurants such as Marceline’s Confectionary and Trolley Treats remain open; food is for takeout only and must be eaten elsewhere. COVID-19 protocols remain in place at the site.
• Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City are closed (but the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel and California Marketplace remain open).
• Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita keeps rides closed but will feature its Holiday in the Park drive-through lights experience weekends through Jan. 31.
California State Parks in affected areas remain open to visitors but have temporarily closed campgrounds for overnight stays. Rangers urge visitors to check in advance with individual parks or ReserveCalifornia.com before their visit.
These Southern California parks are fully closed: Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park in L.A. County; Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park in Kern County; and Border Field State Historic Park in San Diego County.
National parks in California remain open for day use but temporarily closed campgrounds, lodgings and some dining options in early December. Southern California’s two national parks — Joshua Tree and Channel Islands — and Death Valley National Park, which is mostly in Inyo County — have closed campgrounds.
Other outdoor options
• Southern California ski resorts from the Wrightwood area to Big Bear Lake are open daily, with limited lifts operating. Many snow play places are open. You can’t buy walk-up tickets; buy a lift ticket before you leave home.
• Hollywood Forever Cemetery will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cemetery schedules hourlong kundalini yoga and meditation classes on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. (weekdays) or 9 a.m. (weekends) on its Fairbanks Lawn. Pay by donation.
• Forest Lawn Glendale, a cemetery that dates to 1906 and includes graves of many entertainment figures. Indoor exhibits (including the Great Mausoleum and the Great Hall of Liberty) are closed.
• Sunset Ranch Hollywood, which offers horseback tours of the upper reaches of Griffith Park near the Hollywood Sign, is open daily. Prices for one- and two-hour riding tours, typically six riders per guide, are $50-$95 per person.
• Though the Santa Monica Pier is open, its Pacific Park amusement rides, Ferris wheel and merry-go-round remain closed.
• Pop-up ice rinks are canceled this year. The Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square in downtown L.A., Ice in Santa Monica and other rinks won’t be open.
Many reservation casinos, citing tribal sovereignty, have reopened throughout California with a variety of pandemic health measures in place. Among them:
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