LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – One of Southern California’s most popular beaches is shutting down in the latest move to fight COVID-19.

Starting 6 a.m. Saturday morning, Hermosa Beach will shut down The Strand and the beach, according to CBSLA’s Lisa Hillary.

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The closure marks the first of its kind in Los Angeles County.

Officials say the move is to protect public health and prevent a repetition of last weekend, when groups of people congregated on the beach and “were unable to maintain the required distance of a least six feet from people who are not members of their household.”

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While several other areas have announced beach closures, Hermosa Beach is unique in that the city owns its own beach and can proactively decide to close it. Los Angeles County owns the other South Bay beaches and will determine if those will be closed, officials said.

“We understand the desire to be outside and in nature is more powerful than ever and being out in nature is permitted if people avoid crowds and maintain six feet of distance from non-household members,” said Hermosa Beach City Manager Suja Lowenthal. “While most people are staying home to slow the spread of COVID-19, the actions of a few who choose not to follow the rules can cost the lives of many. The sooner we close the beach and Strand, the better our chance to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Public health experts have reported that the virus can spread exponentially in groups, and the virus can remain on surfaces of such things as benches, railings and outdoor equipment for up to 72 hours.

“The Governor has said that people can still take short walks and enjoy other activities as long as they avoid congregating with people who are not members of their own households,” said Lowenthal.

Hermosa Beach’s Downtown Parking Structure also will be closed to the public to discourage people traveling to the beach and the Strand.

Police will start writing citations and imposing fines if the public fails to voluntarily comply with the new rules, Hermosa Beach Interim Police Chief Michael McCrary said.

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“These closures apply to everyone because the beach belongs to all Californians, and the police cannot effectively enforce limited access for just local residents or select groups to use the beach and Strand,” he added.