LA beaches are reopening – but things are far from normal

Few things mean normality to the people of Los Angeles like a day at the beach.

But those who took the first opportunity to return to the beach for the first time in two months found things far from normal.

Officials in Los Angeles County have reopened its 75 miles of beach from Malibu to Long Beach but with strict restrictions in place.

Los Angeles
Image:Things are still far from normal after two months in lockdown
Image:LA beach-goers can walk, run, swim and surf but cannot sunbathe or picnic

The threat of the coronavirus means beach-goers can walk, run, swim and surf but cannot sunbathe or picnic. They can be active, they cannot linger or lounge.

Even so, the chance to feel the breeze off the Pacific and the sand between the toes was a welcome relief for those living in lockdown.

“It feels like a big day,” said Maria Castro. “You can see people are a little scared still and that is a good thing maybe. It is nice to be back.”

They returned in modest numbers. The people of Los Angeles have been generally supportive and observant of the stay-at-home message from authorities.

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Even a normally-bustling Rosie’s Dog Beach, newly opening up to owners and their pooches, had just a handful of visitors on Wednesday morning.

Los Angeles beach
Image:Despite easing of restrictions, the ‘safer at home’ order will remain in effect until July

It was certainly a contrast to the scenes witnessed at beaches in neighbouring Orange County in recent weeks when crowds and anti-lockdown protesters surged to the seafront.

In truth, anyone in Los Angeles desperate to visit the beach until now has been able to journey a few miles north or south to reach some of those that have been open.

And the real test of whether people can be trusted to abide by the restrictions will come at the weekend.

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:: Listen to Divided States on Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Spreaker

But Los Angeles residents could perhaps be forgiven for being confused by the statement from the county’s public health director that, while things are opening up, the “safer at home” order would remain in effect until July.

While that statement was later clarified to reflect that a slow and steady lifting of restrictions will still continue, it did serve as a reminder that things will not return to normal for some time yet.

Even a day at the beach can’t wash away that reality.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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