HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. - Less than three weeks after L.A. County beaches reopened with full access, officials are shutting them down for the July 4th holiday weekend to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The closure in Hermosa Beach is tough for those who have spent many years celebrating the holiday by the water, including South Bay native Dash Mitchell. He grew up in the area as a teenager.
“I hung out at 21st Street in Hermosa Beach. I still do to this day,” said Mitchell. “I am 64 and I have probably been hanging out there for 50 years.”
He goes to Hermosa Beach two to three times a week. “It’s soothing, helps clear the space between your ears,” said Mitchell.
However, the 4th of July holiday is anything but calm as several thousand people typically descend on the beach. Mitchell says this year, it will be unusual to see the beach closed.
“For the people that traditionally come to the beach a couple times a year, bring their families, they are left without this year,” he said.
Mitchell has never seen Hermosa Beach close over 4th of July weekend and he anticipates people will still try to visit. “That will happen, yeah,” he said. “There are people that are rebels.”
Lt. Landon Phillips with the Hermosa Beach Police Department also expects there will be some people who try to use the beach this weekend.
“Part of it will be people who have chosen not to follow the county health order, which is disappointing, but it also might be people who simply don’t know,” he said.
He points out the closures include the Strand and the Hermosa Beach Pier and at least three dozen law enforcement officers from Hermosa Beach Police Department and the LA County Sheriff’s Department will be on hand to enforce the rules.
“We’re always going to talk to people, let them know exactly what the county health order is and ask them to comply and exit the beach,” said Lt. Phillips.
He says those who refuse to leave can face stiff penalties - a misdemeanor citation. “A misdemeanor has a maximum fine of $1,000,” he said.
The beach closures come as the LA County Department of Public health announced more than 2,900 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the single largest one-day case count since the pandemic began. In Hermosa Beach, the number of coronavirus cases have increased by 155 percent in the past month, with 74 confirmed cases so far.
For Mitchell, who is used to spending so much time at the beach, the closure will be tough.
“We may not agree with it but I’m certainly going to adhere to it because there are obviously other people’s lives at danger,” he said.
The LA County beach closures start at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 2 and end at 5 a.m. on Monday, July 6.