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Los Angeles County Sheriff Says He Won’t Enforce Order To Close Beaches For July Fourth

By  Joseph Curl
city social distancing regulations mandated by Gov. Newsom in Huntinton Beach, CA, on April 22, 2020. (
Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced, on Monday, that from Friday through next Monday — the entire Fourth of July holiday weekend — all beaches in the county will be closed “to prevent dangerous crowding that results in the spread of deadly COVID-19.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said, however, that his agency won’t be carrying out the county’s order.

“We were not consulted on the beach closure, and will only assist our beach cities in closing parking lots and traffic enforcement on PCH [Pacific Coast Highway],” the sheriff said in a statement to KTTV-TV reporter Bill Melugin. “In regards to enforcing the beach closure, we will not be enforcing it because we are ‘Care First, Jail Last.'”

“This new order makes it illegal to trespass at these locations and is punishable by law to include, but not limited to, a $1,000 fine,” the department said.

In addition to beach closures, the county health department also said because of COVID-19, “the department is prohibiting fireworks displays in the county” over the weekend.

“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. The Fourth of July holiday weekend typically means large crowds and gatherings to celebrate, a recipe for increased transmission of COVID-19,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer in a press release.

“We all need to take this virus more seriously and residents and business owners must do their part. Physical distancing isn’t optional, wearing a face covering isn’t optional, spending time only with those you live with isn’t optional — these are requirements in the Health Officer Order and are the tools we have to protect each other, our families and those most vulnerable in our communities,” she said.

The department cited a “key metric,” saying they “continue to show steep increases in community spread of COVID-19. Today, the department announced more than 2,900 new cases of COVID-19, the single largest one-day case count since the pandemic began. Data show increases in people testing positive for the virus and increases in hospitalizations as a result. Projections by the Department of Health Services show a marked increase in hospitalizations in the coming weeks, which could cause a surge in our healthcare system.”

Over the weekend, NBC News reported that California’s Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom announced that bars in eight counties, including Los Angeles, would be closed due to coronavirus concerns.

As of Monday evening, over 8% of coronavirus tests in Los Angeles county have returned positive. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in a later press conference on Monday that he was putting a “hard pause” on the re-opening of businesses, including theme parks and movie theaters, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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