Bringing to a close a weekend of concern over people ignoring coronavirus-spurred social-distancing rules in public places amid the city’s “Safer at Home” orders, the city of Long Beach closed sports facilities in parks and beaches and urged residents not to gather in open spaces.
Earlier on Sunday, March 22, the city announced that no new people were reported testing positive for the novel coronavirus, leaving the total at 15 in the city, with another 140 either currently or having been monitored, health officials said in their daily update. Four people so far have recovered.
“We continue to see large groups of people gathering in our parks playing team sports and at the beach — and that is a problem,” Mayor Robert Garcia said on Sunday. “We are in the midst of a public health emergency and people of all ages can be affected by COVID-19. For the sake of our hospitals, first responders and loved ones, it is critical that everyone follow our Safer at Home order.”
This measures were set in motion by City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis, using emergency powers granted to the city manager through Long Beach’s declaration of a local emergency.
Still allowed in parks and along the beach: Walking, hiking, biking and running — just so long as residents maintain at least six feet of physical distance between one another.
Officials also asked people to avoid touching handrails, water fountains and crosswalk buttons with their hands, suggesting elbows as alternatives.
The novel coronavirus disease — also known as COVID-19 — can thrive on some surfaces for up to 72 hours, experts have said since the worldwide pandemic began.
Closed immediately in the city will be:
And group exercise in parks is also discouraged.
A clearly concerned Garcia posted on Facebook and on Twitter Saturday and Sunday about the need to social distance.
“Seriously people, you need to practice social distancing,” Garcia tweeted. “I am seeing tons of people out there acting like there’s no crisis. You could be carrying the virus, have no symptoms and be responsible for the illness or worse of others.”
On Facebook, Garcia wrote that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s and the city’s order does allow people to go for a walk or visit a park or beach.
“However, you must still use social distancing," he wrote. “You can’t play team sports, and you must stay 6 feet apart from anyone else. We need the public to take self responsibility and remember that our doctors, nurses, and medical personnel are counting on us.”
Also on Sunday, the city announced free alternative off-street parking options and increasing on-street parking meter courtesy times.
On Saturday, the city issued an update on how it will enforce the March 19 “Safer at Home” order.
Businesses that violate or fail to comply with the Long Beach Health Officer’s order may be subject to civil enforcement, which includes but is not limited to, administrative penalties and revocation of a business and/or health permit.