L.A. County beaches closed, fireworks prohibited for Fourth of July weekend

Los Angeles County Seal.
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As the Fourth of July approaches, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials announced a modified health officer order issued Monday to close county beaches and prohibit fireworks displays through the holiday weekend to prevent crowding that could result in the spread of COVID-19.

City officials confirmed Monday evening they’re seeking an exception to the order for a city-run fireworks show, if possible — although they also said they’re planning to comply with whatever the county’s final ruling is.

All public beaches, piers, public beach parking lots, beach bike paths that traverse that sanded portion of the beach and beach access points are set to be temporarily closed from 12:01 a.m. Friday through 5 a.m. July 6, while fireworks displays are prohibited countywide.

Like previous health officer orders, these restrictions apply to all cities and unincorporated areas of the county, except Long Beach, which has its own health department.

Though it is unclear whether the city of Santa Clarita’s fireworks display will be canceled, Communications Manager Carrie Lujan said the city has received the order, and is expected to issue a statement Tuesday. 

“We have been in contact with Supervisor (Kathryn) Barger’s office, and given the parameters that we had already set prohibiting gatherings around our firework show, we’re looking to see if that would provide an exception to the rule,” Mayor Cameron Smyth said Monday evening, adding, “because we didn’t have any conversations with Public Health before their ruling to explain how we have set up our fireworks show.” 

Even so, Smyth said the city plans to comply with whatever Public Health ultimately orders.

“And as disappointing as it may be if we’re not able to move forward with the show,” he said, “we felt it was worth explaining how we have chosen to set it up in Santa Clarita to see if that would provide any relief to the county order.”

This announcement comes as Public Health on Monday announced the single largest one-day spike in COVID-19 cases in L.A. County since the start of the outbreak, with an additional 2,903 COVID-19 cases, bringing the countywide total to 100,772. 

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

Ferrer continued to urge county residents and businesses to take COVID-19 more seriously and do their part to prevent the spread. 

“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,” Ferrer added.

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