Officials in Southern California are reminding residents to ignore the beaches and trails this weekend as temperatures soar in the region amid the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing mandates.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said that while he knows Southern California residents love the great outdoors, it's important to avoid large crowds and gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It's getting warmer in Los Angeles, and when it gets warmer in Los Angeles -- we are a coastal city, we tend to head to the beach, we tend to head to the trails,” Moore said. “We like to be outdoors. And yet, as we know, in the nonessential activities, we've needed to close trailheads. We've needed to close the beaches.
“There's areas of Los Angeles we're asking people not to congregate,” he said. “We're asking people to exercise social distancing so that we can cut down this threat of the COVID-19. To date, our efforts have been to advise, counsel and direct. And I have to say the vast amount of Angelenos have been compliant, and they have avoided those congregations. And when they've been approached by officers, they've honored their direction and guidance.
“As we come upon this weekend, and we see the increased temperature and we see other parts of this region opening their spaces, I know that there'll be opportunities for people to think, `Why not here?' and `Let's just go out there.' I'm going to ask everyone to exercise that social contract of our own responsibility and hold ourselves accountable and avoid those nonessential activities.”
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director echoed Moore's comments this week, saying the nice weather isn't an excuse to head to the beaches this weekend.
“It's very important even with the good weather that people do not congregate together outside,” she said. “So enjoy the outdoors alone or with other members of your household. And this means please take a walk, go for a jog or sit outside in your yard and allow your children to be outside and enjoy this beautiful weather. But you need to do it as a household and not to congregate in places and spaces that are beautiful but will defeat our need for us to keep our distance still.”
This weekend's heat wave will be particularly difficult for some in the region, as many of the normal refuges from hot weather, such as movie theaters and shopping malls, have been closed amid the pandemic.
According to the National Weather Service, this weekend will see strong winds amid a heat advisory until 6 pm Saturday for much of the southern California region. Residents were urged to "drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors."
The weather service also reminded people that young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.
People who do go outside are advised to "take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 911.”
Moore said residents are still welcome to go outside, but they should avoid crowds and highly trafficked areas.
“Save the police the awkwardness of us having to admonish you and advise and direct you for something that you already know,” Moore said. “With that, our men and women can stay focused on public safety.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti said if temperatures in some areas reach potentially dangerous levels for people without air conditioning, the city is prepared to open cooling centers.
“If we do have triggers that go beyond the normal triggers that we have even in the pre-COVID-19 days, we are looking at cooling centers this weekend,” Garcetti said.
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