By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Palisadians who visited Will Rogers State Beach to enjoy some time in the sunshine the weekend of March 21 to 22 had to find other ways to get in their outdoor time after the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a closure of beaches effective Friday, March 27, due to COVID-19.
The department ordered closures—in addition to all trails and trailheads—of beaches, piers, beach bike paths and beach access points in LA County through at least April 19.
“Warm weather and LA’s pristine coastline draw millions of people to the sand each year,” Pono Barnes, ocean lifeguard specialist with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, shared in a report after the first weekend following statewide Safer at Home orders. “We saw tens of thousands of you here at the beach. We had large groups on the sand, and crowded bike paths were seen all up and down the coast.”
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl urged everyone in a statement to take every possible step to stay out of harm’s way and avoid infecting other people.
“I ask every county resident to comply with the Safer at Home recommendations, including today’s health order to stay off of county beaches,” Kuehl continued. “Your cooperation could literally mean the difference between life and death for many county residents.”
According to a representative from the Department of Beaches and Harbors, the order prohibits people from accessing the beach, no matter if they’re taking a walk or launching a paddleboard, so surfing is not allowed.
“The Department of Beaches and Harbors, Los Angeles County Lifeguards and local law enforcement will warn people to leave the beach,” the representative said. “People who do not heed these warnings may be subject to enforcement action.”
The city of Malibu has posted no parking signs along sections of Pacific Coast Highway and certain streets within city limits to prevent violations of the LA County and State Parks orders that closed beaches and trails.
Public Health encouraged residents to continue walking, biking and running within neighborhoods while observing social distancing, while sending out a reminder that gatherings of any size are banned at this time, including visiting a friend’s house, or going to the park or store in a group.
Gelson’s temporarily closed its Pacific Palisades location on March 27 after one of the store’s team members tested positive for COVID-19. The employee, who last worked on March 22, was reportedly recovering at home.
“To keep everyone safe and protected as this pandemic grows,” representatives from Gelson’s shared in a statement, “we are taking precautionary measures for cleaning and sanitization related to coronavirus.”
Representatives from Gelson’s were unable to provide any identifiable information about the employee due to privacy laws, but encouraged customers to “rest assured, this employee does not interact with members of the public for the period of time the CDC lists as close contact.”
After being fully sanitized and inspected, the store reopened on Saturday, March 28.
“We are working closely with local health officials to take all necessary measures and provide customers with information needed to make an informed decision regarding their health and safety,” the statement continued. “We encourage shoppers who have health-related concerns to review CDC and local health department guidelines and to contact their healthcare providers with any questions.”
Gelson’s resumed its regular hours, including a special hour for seniors only from 7 to 8 a.m.
On Monday evening, March 30, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a temporary suspension of farmers markets “pending city review of physical distancing plans needed to keep communities safe,” citing “dangerously crowded” markets.
“We will review plans immediately so markets can stay open this week,” Garcetti concluded.
“I strongly support this approach,” Councilmember Mike Bonin wrote in a statement. “Both indoor supermarkets and outdoor farmers markets offer an essential service, and the city needs to regulate the operations of both to protect public health. If social distancing is maintained, an outdoor market can be even safer than an indoor market.”
He added that in many parts of the city without access to supermarkets, farmers markets serve as one of very few sources of fresh and healthy food.
The Pacific Palisades Farmers Market, which operates in the Palisades Charter High School parking lot, has been closed since Los Angeles Unified School District prohibited gatherings on its campuses.
As the Palisadian-Post went to print on Tuesday, the number of cases of COVID-19 had reached 22 in Pacific Palisades, with 3,011 throughout the county and 54 deaths, according to Public Health.
Earlier reports from LA County had included Mandeville Canyon as part of the Palisades in its daily number of confirmed cases by neighborhood. In response, the county has split Mandeville into its own neighborhood for its reports.
Original reports of Brentwood included the areas of Bel Air, Beverly Crest and Franklin Canyon.