Southern Californians will face Independence Day weekend with most fireworks shows canceled and beaches closed in Los Angeles and Ventura counties with a modified closure in Santa Barbara county.
The Santa Barbara County beach closure, announced Thursday afternoon, is the latest of many late-breaking measures taken by local officials wary of holiday crowds. It allows surfing, swimming and other activities in the water, as well as walking and running, but bans passive activities, including sitting, lying, standing ,sunbathing, sightseeing and picnicking. It will be effective from 12:01 a.m. on Friday through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.
So far, many other agencies that manage parks and trails are planning to be open, but more changes are possible. Face coverings and social distancing in public places remain mandatory.
On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would be closing parking at state beaches throughout Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area for the weekend. He also announced closure of many indoor operations in L.A. and 18 other counties, including restaurant dining rooms, wineries, museums and card rooms for at least three weeks
Though the state isn’t mandating the closure of all beaches, Newsom said, state parks will close state beaches in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and other counties that choose to close their beaches.
Newsom said other state parks will remain open for the weekend with measures in place to limit crowding. He also urged counties to consider canceling fireworks shows and said new "enforcement strike teams" would be enforcing health restrictions in workplaces.
Southern California beach closures
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, coping with the state's largest number of COVID-19 cases, made the beach-closure choice Monday. L.A. County beaches will be shut from Friday morning through Monday morning. Back in May, when county officials reopened beaches after the first closure, they warned that this move might be necessary.
Ventura County officials made their beach-closure decision Tuesday.
Santa Barbara County leaders decided on Thursday after learning of rising coronavirus infections in that area.
Orange County moved Wednesday to close bars, then Thursday moved to close a dozen county-operated beaches, including Aliso Beach, Capistrano Beach, Salt Creek Beach, Baby Beach, Bayside Beach, Camel Point Beach, Poche Beach, Strands Beach, Table Rock Beach, Thousand Steps Beach, Treasure Island Beach and West Street Beach. They will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.
The Newport Beach City Council voted Wednesday to close that city's beaches from 10 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday.
The Laguna Beach City council voted Tuesday to close that city's beaches on Saturday, July 4, while taking a wait-and-see approach to Friday and Sunday.
The L.A. County holiday closure covers public beaches, piers, public beach parking lots, beach bike paths that traverse the sanded portion of the beach, and beach access points in the cities and unincorporated areas of L.A. County. Long Beach, which has its own Department of Public Health, is following the county's lead.
San Diego County so far is keeping its beaches open. (And big waves and rip currents are expected). Santa Barbara County beaches will remain open for the holiday too, although the city's mayor, Cathy Murillo, expressed worries about out-of-town throngs heading to that stretch of coastline.
The L.A. Times is tracking openings, closures and restrictions on beaches statewide.
The Times is also tracking evolving rules county by county as California's regions regulate restaurants, bars, retailers, hotels and other business while the state fights the coronavirus outbreak. (Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego and Santa Barbara were among the California counties to close down their bars in the last days of June after reopenings were followed by a jump in case counts.)
Around Los Angeles County
In L.A.'s 4,200-acre Griffith Park, rangers are putting traffic limits in place to reduce crowds in late afternoon and evening. A mailing to members of the Los Feliz Improvement Assn. on Tuesday noted that rangers will stop inbound car traffic on Vermont Avenue and at Fern Dell at 5 p.m. Saturday, then stop inbound foot traffic at the same entrances at 7 p.m.
In the greater San Gabriel Valley, three popular garden sites will be open, but by appointment only to non-members. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge and the L.A. County Arboretum in Arcadia all moved to the reservations-required policy to maintain distancing among visitors.
In other areas, Monrovia Canyon Park is open to visitors who get tickets in advance from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The park is closed Saturdays, Sundays and holidays; and access to the Waterfall Trail remains closed. "This trail is narrow and incredibly popular, making it incredibly difficult to ensure safe, social distancing..." the website says.
Catalina Island businesses will be open for the holiday and the Catalina Express will be running boats between Long Beach (or Dana Point) and Avalon on the island, the island Chamber of Commerce said. Because Catalina is part of L.A. County, its public beaches are closed — but not the cabanas and lawn chairs of the neighboring Descanso Beach Club in Avalon and Harbor Sands at Two Harbors.
Most Los Angeles County trails will remain open, but Eaton Canyon Natural Area in Pasadena requires advance reservations because of overcrowding.
The southern L.A. County city of Pico Rivera is closing its parks temporarily.
County health officials urge hikers to stay home if they feel ill, wear a mask, pass with care, avoid groups and leave no trace. More details and advice are offered on the county trails website.
Los Angeles city parks
Though city golf courses and tennis courts have reopened and parks are open, city recreation centers, aquatic facilities, skate parks, playgrounds, baseball fields, soccer fields and basketball courts remain closed.
The City of Big Bear Lake on Wednesday cancelled its Saturday-night Fourth of July fireworks show. Local officials said the event would be rescheduled for late summer or fall, if possible during the fight against the pandemic.
And then Thursday, the San Bernardino Sun reported that Lake Arrowhead, Lake Elsinore, and Rancho Cucamonga were also cancelling fireworks this weekend.
San Bernardino County has reopened its county parks, lakes, rivers and recreation areas.
California State Parks
As the governor made his remarks Wednesday, state parks officials indicated they would close vehicular access at all beaches in Marin, Monterey, Orange, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties.
Apart from state beaches in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the state parks system won't close sites that are open. Visitors are advised to visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve to check which destinations and parking areas are open.
Before you visit any state park, check its status with the state.
Santa Monica Mountains
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which straddles Los Angeles and Ventura counties, has reopened most of its trails, parking lots, overlooks and restrooms. Its two visitor centers remain closed, however. Like other agencies, the National Park Service urges hikers to wear face coverings and keep their distance from others.
Also, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority has reopened most of its parks, trails, parking lots and restrooms. The authority manages more than 75,000 acres of open space, much of it owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
National forests in Southern California
Most trails and natural areas are open in Southern California's national forests. Some areas are closed because of overcrowding during the pandemic.
The Angeles National Forest north of L.A., Chantry Flats and Roberts Camp above Sierra Madre are closed on weekends. Picnic areas are open, and some backcountry campgrounds such as Mt. Oak, Lake, Table Mountain, Sycamore, South Fork and Big rock are open. Campgrounds at Mt. Pacifico, Little Jimmy, Buckhorn and others, as well as visitor centers, are still closed.
In the San Bernardino National Forest, trails, trailheads, picnic areas and campgrounds are open. However, popular swimming holes, particularly Aztec Falls at Deep Creek, are temporarily closed in the Lake Arrowhead area. The closure also includes Hook Creek Road.
In the Los Padres National Forest, trails and campgrounds are open except for the Santa Paula Canyon and the Last Chance Trail in the Ojai District is closed. For information on different areas, go to the forest's website for updates about the Monterey, Santa Lucia, Santa Barbara, Ojai and Mt. Pinos areas.
National parks in California
All of California’s 11 national parks and recreation areas are now open. The most recent reopenings include several campgrounds in Death Valley, and Muir Woods in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. But visitor centers and campgrounds at most parks remain closed. See a park-by-park list of closures.