As many Californians were advised to stay home and practice social distancing in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, many beaches, parks, and popular hikes—such as Runyon Canyon—saw heavy foot traffic. Groups picnicked on the sand, hikers chatted as they strolled with their dogs, and kids chased one another around jungle gyms.
The influx of recreationists sparked worry that citizens were not taking the rules of Mayor Garcetti’s Safer At Home order seriously. With over 400 confirmed cases in Los Angeles County, the Mayor announced on Twitter Sunday evening that outdoor recreation areas would be shut down.
Garcetti goes on to warn citizens the closure of recreation areas does not mean that citizens can go ahead and recreate elsewhere, but they should be abiding by California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s instruction to stay at home and self quarantine.
So far in Los Angeles, all golf courses are closed, organized group sports at LA parks are banned, and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority will be closing down all parks and trails. In addition, the city and local governments have taken action to close parking lots along Malibu, Santa Monica, and Venice beach to prevent citizens from gathering outdoors.
While she has been enjoying hiking to pass time herself, USC Annenberg Lecturer of Journalism Jennifer de la Fuente understands the Mayor’s actions.
“I think if you go on a trail by yourself, that’s one thing. But if you’re going to go to a place where a zillion people naturally congregate, that’s a risk,” de la Fuente said. “Look at the kids who went to Florida on Spring Break and came back with the virus. That’s what they’re trying to prevent out here.”
At this time, Los Angeles residents are advised to remain home and to “limit all movement outside of their homes beyond what is absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs,” according to the Los Angeles COVID-19 Response and Resources page.
Freshman Parina Ghafari agrees with de la Fuente to a certain extent. “I think it’s definitely important to stay inside as much as possible, but if I decide to go out, I make sure it’s in a private place with not too many people around. I feel that if everyone takes this coronavirus pandemic seriously, then it will all be over much faster.”
Mayor Garcetti’s request bestows a moral obligation on Angelenos to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. USC Annenberg Media reached out to the Mayor’s Office but they did not immediately respond to our interview request to confirm this information.
As more information is uncovered regarding the spread and affect of COVID-19, more public areas are likely to close. While Mayor Garcetti’s Safer At Home order is set to last through April 19, it is uncertain exactly how long it will be until public recreation is allowed.
- LA City Golf Courses
- Parking lots at Venice and Santa Monica beach
- Organized group sports at LA parks
- Parking lots along malibu coastline
- All parks and trails owned by Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority