L.A. County Beaches to Reopen Wednesday After Unprecedented Closure

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Beach access has been a hot-button issue across the Southern California coastline as closures have led to protests, petitions and lawsuit threats.

After an unprecedented closure, Los Angeles County officials are preparing to open the coastline up for active use beginning Wednesday.

The move, announced Monday afternoon via the county's official Twitter account, had been anticipated but comes with restrictions. There will be no sitting or sunbathing and cloth face masks must be worn when visitors are out of the water or near others. 

A few hours earlier, L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer revealed at the county's COVID-19 press briefing that she expected to announce a new health officer order on Wednesday, signaling that it was about beaches. She said opening would be limited to "active recreation" to keep crowds moving and avoid large gatherings. “Like everyone else,” Ferrer said, “we are anxious to be on this recovery journey. We can only do this with everyone’s cooperation.”

L.A. County beaches have been closed since March 27, when Ferrer was joined by Gary Jones, director of the L.A. County Department of Beaches and Harbors, in announcing the order that followed massive crowds from Venice to Malibu during a spring heatwave that previous weekend. The area, like much of the state, has been inching forward with COVID-19 recovery plans over the past week. The first major step came on Friday when phase two allowed for low-risk places to reopen with curbside delivery, including businesses such as bookstores, florists, retail and sporting goods stores. Officials have long made it clear that as residents emerge from self-isolation, physical distancing, hand washing and cloth masks remain a priority.