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July 4 will be a do-or-die moment for California as coronavirus rages

Rong-Gong Lin II, Colleen Shalby and Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- With coronavirus cases surging in California, the upcoming July 4 weekend is shaping up to be a crucial test for whether residents can reduce risky behavior and slow the outbreak.

Data show the current jump in cases appears to have begun around the Memorial Day weekend, just as the state was allowing businesses to reopen. Authorities believe many people resumed social gatherings after months of staying home, and that helped spread the virus. Memorial Day holiday events were followed by graduation and Father's Day celebrations.

Other factors in the surge include people returning to restaurants and bars, where inspections have found that many businesses were not following social distancing and health and safety rules.

-- What are officials doing to prepare for July 4?

Los Angeles County will close its beaches Friday and ban fireworks displays in anticipation of the Fourth of July holiday.

Although it was a "difficult decision to make," the closures are crucial because so many people gather to celebrate -- which could be "a recipe for increased transmission of COVID-19," county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Monday.


All public beaches, piers, public beach parking lots, beach bike paths "that traverse that sanded portion of the beach" and beach access points will be closed from 12:01 a.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. The ban on fireworks displays applies only to the Fourth of July weekend.

"I know how much we look forward to this time of year," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a Monday evening news briefing. "But not this year. This year, we have to think about saving lives to protect what we have in this country ... and to make sure our economy doesn't take more steps backward."

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered seven counties, including Los Angeles, to immediately close bars and nightspots that were open.

San Diego County bars, breweries and wineries learned Monday that they will not be allowed to operate, at least not in the traditional sense, starting Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. While restaurants will still be allowed to serve drinks with meals, no one will be allowed to stand around with drinks in their hands after the stroke of midnight.


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