LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — With inland temperatures expected to hit the 90s on Memorial Day, Southern Californians are expected be at the beach in droves this weekend.
However, a day at the beach could be more hazardous than usual this year. Not only do swimmers have to watch out for rip tides, like the one that swept former WWE star Shad Gaspard out to sea, there’s also the issue of trying to maintain a six feet distance from other beachgoers to avoid spreading coronavirus.
“We do have an increased swell coming for this Memorial Day weekend,” Los Angeles Lifeguard Capt. AJ Lester said. “It’s gonna be busy, it’s gonna be hot.”
This weekend will be the first holiday weekend with more of Southern California reopening since the state was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Much of the region has been under safer-at-home orders since mid-March. The first spring weekend Southern California saw hot temperatures led to big crowds at Orange County beaches, which were then shut down by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Those beaches are now beginning to open back up for active use only.
“We understand that people need to get out of the house and they’re gonna be down at the beach,” Lester said. “We just ask that they do so as safely as possible, and they always check in with that lifeguard, find out what the ocean conditions are for that day. It’s dangerous.”
Visiting the beach is complicated by the active-use rules put in place as a condition for reopening. Beachgoers must walk, run, swim or surf, and may not put down blankets, coolers or otherwise have a picnic on the beach, and wear face coverings unless they are in the water. Parking lots also remain closed to discourage visitors from further away than walking or biking distance.
Seal Beach is reopening its beaches Wednesday, the latest city to open up its sand to visitors.