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L.A. County beaches are open again—with plenty of restrictions

Los Angeles beaches reopened in mid-May, but there are a lot of new rules to unpack.

By
Michael Juliano
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UPDATE (6/30): All beaches in L.A. County will be closed for the Fourth of July weekend, from July 3 at 12:01am to July 6 at 5am.

UPDATE (6/15): As of June 12, you no longer have to keep moving while at the beach, as sunbathing is now allowed with members of the same household, along with umbrellas, coolers, beach chairs and canopies. Pier and boardwalks are open again, but volleyball courts must remain closed. In addition, more parking lots are reopening, but with limited spots to avoid overcrowding.

There’s one important caveat, though: These newly relaxed rules only apply to county-run beaches. For example, Venice is operated by the City of Los Angeles, and they’ve yet to allow picnicking. 

UPDATE (5/22): Just ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the county has given the go-ahead for bike paths along the beach to reopen. In addition, the parking lots at Dockweiler State Beach, Will Rogers State Beach, Zuma Beach and Surfrider Beach will reopen with partial capacity (likely a response to the gridlock along PCH last weekend). However, lots in Santa Monica will remain closed, along with most public beach lots in coastal communities. Later on in the day, Mayor Garcetti announced that parking lots at Cabrillo and Venice Beach would reopen, as well—though it’s not clear yet if it’ll be at reduced capacity.

UPDATE (5/11): The Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors announced today that county beaches will reopen on Wednesday, May 13. The beachgoing experience will be quite different, though: You can surf, swim, walk or run, but you can’t sit, sunbathe or picnic. Coolers and canopies aren’t allowed, and biking and volleyball are still off limits. Parking lots, piers and boardwalks will also remain closed. In addition, you’ll need to keep six feet away from others, and face coverings are required outside of the water.

It’s worth noting that the county only oversees about a third of the coastline, but the cities of Los Angeles, Malibu, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach have announced they’ll reopen, as well. Long Beach, meanwhile, has already reopened its beachfront bike and walking paths, and its beaches will also reopen for active recreation on Wednesday (though parking lots will remain closed).

Our original story from May 8 appears below.

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Sun-and-sand–dependent Angelenos have been jealously (or angrily) looking to our neighbors to the north and south and wondering when L.A. beaches will reopen. They were shut down in late March along with trails and parks, but now that the latter two are reopening that just leaves beaches—though maybe only for a little longer.

Beaches in Los Angeles County may reopen as soon as next week, according to a number of reports on Friday. Precisely when, though, seems to be a point of contention: KTLA reported a potential reopening date of Wednesday, May 13; the L.A. Times placed the opening window at next Wednesday or Thursday; and the Daily Breeze was saying Friday, May 15.

All three reports credit officials from the Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors, and though the dates may differ, the substance is the same: A four-phase plan is being drafted by coastal city leaders that would reopen beaches in phases. Though the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has yet to sign off on the plan, department director Dr. Barbara Ferrer was asked about the reports in Friday’s daily briefing, and she said that depending on how this first weekend of reopened trails goes, we could see additional restrictions lifted next week.

The first phase—a potentially six-week-long period that could kick off next week—would reopen beaches for active water recreation like swimming, surfing and kayaking, as well as walking and running on the sand. Social distancing would be encouraged, as would masks when on dry land. Sunbathing, beach chairs and group athletics would still be banned, and pedestrian and bicycle paths like the Strand would remain off limits. Parking lots and piers would also be closed to limit crowds. Bathrooms, however, would be open.

The second phase would allow for family groups of up to 10 with masks required, and the bike path and a limited amount of parking would reopen. The third phase would up that number to 30 and the fourth would see regular beach procedures resume—but don’t expect either of those for a number of months.

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