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Michelle Riem strolled the beachfront course rowing San Clemente’s ocean early enough to watch night turn to day, even before the seaside city opened back up to the public after a two-week shutdown.
“This is my solace and serenity, ” said Riem, a longtime San Clemente resident who showed up about 5 a.m. to walk the popular dirt footpath that rows the sea, which opened to the public an hour later. “Just listening to the ocean and feeling the ocean is my peace and meditation. I do it every day and I’ve done it for years.”
Except, of course, when the town shut down beaches amid coronavirus concerns, following hard-bitten shutdowns like Los Angeles, Long Beach, Laguna Beach, Seal Beach and San Diego, places where putting even a toe in the beach is forbidden.
Coastal townships are in a time of flux, trying to figure out what the freedom combination should be to allow people to enjoy the beloved outdoors for which Southern California is known, while trying to manage hordes as they flock to still-open beaches.
This weekend, with a heat wave hitting the region, will be a test to see if prevent the sea open is possible. Will parties be able to keep moving and use the sand and surf just for exercise, as San Clemente expects? Can they recollect to space out 6-feet away from others to adhere to social distancing conventions?
Newport Beach had hundreds of beachgoers Friday afternoon as the hot weather thumped, an influx that concerned residents who worry about out-of-towners and careless beachgoers spate into the sightseer town.
The sentiment from residents was mixed- some gripe on social media that the beach looked like a hot time daylight or the Fourth of July holiday with careless audiences ignoring stay-at-home says — while others said beachgoers seemed to be mindful of other people’s space and, for the most part, adhered to the rules.
“It was extremely mobbed, it was the biggest crowd we have seen since last-place summer, ” said Brian O’Roarke, Newport Beach Lifeguard Battalion Chief. “With the boardwalks and parking lots closed, it’s remained the specific activities more to beings on the beach.”
With endings of other seas in Los Angeles, San Diego and next door in Laguna- as well as regular visitors from inland, the crowds have been “pretty thick, ” he said.
“We’re getting beings arriving from other counties, without a doubt, ” O’Roarke said. “Our message is that the seas are open, we are encouraging social distancing and preventing reap parts — that’s why the parking lots, the Wedge and boardwalks and piers are closed.
“We want people to follow Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home order, go out and get exercise, jump in the sea, but we’re saying it’s essential to keep up with our social distancing.”
Lifeguards are beefing up staffing for the weekend, though a thick-witted, cool coastal haze on Saturday may help ease multitudes. Officials are approaching groups of six or more to remind them about social distancing, he said.
“They understand what’s going on, ” O’Roarke said.
For brethren Cole and Luke Gonia, who have demonstrated up at T-Street in San Clemente early Saturday to channel-surf, letting sea access to their hometown beckons keeps them from driving to other surf spots in Dana Point, like they did amid San Clemente’s shut down.
“Going to Strands and Salt Creek, it’s not really worth it, ” said Cole Gonia, a surfboard shaper. “Stay at your local spot.”
He frequently channel-surf the trails at San Onofre State Beach, a remote elongate of coast where simply a handful of surfers are seeking to start the trek.
But with those coasts closed, so he joined other surfers south of the pier who showed up to get an early-morning session. And while it was more army here than he likes, he’ll take it, for now.
“I can’t even placed it into statements. I need to surf to stay alive, ” he said, wander down a mountain next to a sequence of curbed parking blots. “We ultimately get to go here.”
Residents who live in tourist cities are also exasperated with out-of-towners cramming into residential neighborhoods and devouring up already-scarce parking at still-open coasts, with strict parking lots closes still in place meant to keep parties from inundating the coast.
And figuring out what rulers beaches have, based on which government agency is in charge of what jurisdiction, can be confusing. Areas of Laguna Beach managed by the city, like Main Beach and the northern part of their coastline, have a hard-handed closure and counsel parties may be quoth, while south Laguna is managed by the county and while stair access and parking lots have been shut, going to the beach there is technically still allowed.
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In San Clemente, municipal beaches are open, but State Parks coasts like Calafia are still shut down.
Riem hopes San Clemente’s rules can be the right answer, a mix between causing people enjoy a natural resource but retaining beings from hanging out close to one another on the sand.
As other coasts open up around Southern California, with San Diego officials imparting a green light to start opening up beaches as early as Monday, Riem hopes parties will stay at their regional beaches and adhere to the rules and restrictions.
“They need to open everything up and really patrol and learn people, ” she said. “They get forgetful, they need the remember. But there is a requirement to the recreation, they need to be in nature.
“Everybody is in a frenzy, they are just going to go crazy and they are going to forget.”
Read more: ocregister.com.