OC to close 12 county-administered beaches on July 4 weekend

Orange County officials announced Thursday that a dozen county-operated beaches will be closed for the July 4 weekend as the region grapples with an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

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 will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

The stretches of coastline, all operated by the county, add to a growing list of city beaches that will be closed during the holidays in an effort to prevent crowds from congregating in the sand and potentially spreading COVID-19.

Laguna Beach was the first coastal city to restrict access to the beach on July 4. The City Council voted Tuesday to close the city-operated beaches entirely on July 4, a day that generally draws large crowds to the city. On Thursday, the city decided to extend its closure until 5 am Monday.

The city had previously canceled its fireworks show in an effort to reduce crowds, but took the issue a step further afterward. Los Angeles and Ventura counties closed their beaches and residents began to express concern about a possible influx of bathers.

“Particularly on the Fourth of July, when there were fireworks … it looked like sardines in a can,” Acting Mayor Steve Dicterow said this week. “There was no space between people. My concern is that even without fireworks, there can be a high density of people on the beaches. “

The city’s police department will increase monitoring and law enforcement on the beach and can issue citations for people who don’t comply with the closings, authorities said.

On Wednesday, Seal Beach followed through with its own decision to close beaches, beach parking lots, volleyball courts, the pier, and restrooms. The services will reopen on Sunday morning, but the city may extend the shutdown “if the reopening is believed to be detrimental to the health of the community,” city officials said in a press release.

Newport Beach decided to close its beaches from 10 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday after two first responders tested positive for COVID-19 and 23 were quarantined.

Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles said his division is still adequately staffed, but that it would “stretch quite a bit.” Of the quarantine rescuers, one shows symptoms of COVID-19 and has not yet been tested.

“I cannot, in good conscience, add more to our life jackets,” Mayor Will O’Neill said at an emergency City Council meeting Wednesday to approve the closure. “We simply cannot responsibly ask our first responders to do more with less. We just can’t. “

Huntington Beach will also close its beaches, beach parking lots, and pier on Saturday.

“The potential, if we are the only open beach, to be flooded certainly exists,” city manager Oliver Chi said at a council meeting a few hours after Newport. “We don’t want that situation.”

Dana Point and San Clemente beaches remained open until Thursday afternoon.

The closings come amid a worrying increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations that prompted state officials to reduce the reopening of some business sectors in the county, including bars and restaurants.

On Wednesday, Orange County confirmed five additional coronavirus-related deaths and 570 new cases of COVID-19. The daily count brings the total number of cases in Orange County to 14,413, with 345 deaths.

The county has a case rate of 126.4 per 100,000 residents and a positive test rate of 10.4%, according to the latest county data.

The state has established a desired standard average of 25 positive cases per 100,000 over a 14-day period and an average seven-day positive test rate of 8%.