Hermosa Beach to temporarily close parks Sunday
Hermosa Beach will close all parks in the city on Sunday to discourage people from gathering to celebrate religious holidays and inadvertently spreading the coronavirus.
Unlike other recent closures of public spaces, including The Strand and the beach, the park closures will end the following day. Sunday is Easter, and Passover began on Wednesday and lasts until Thursday. In a statement announcing the closures issued on Thursday, City Manager Suja Lowenthal said she recognized the desire of residents to gather outdoors, but urged them to find other ways to celebrate.
“This year, we are asking residents to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by celebrating at home with their household members, participating in a service online and connecting with extended family and loved ones virtually,” Lowenthal said.
The news follows similar, temporary closures of Los Angeles County parks, lakes and botanical gardens. Parks have been among the few recreations spaces to remain open amid the widespread closures of beaches, bike paths and hiking trails, which were undertaken after many people continued to congregate in apparent defiance of social distancing recommendations from public health authorities.
Hermosa has a history of outdoor religious gatherings in the spring, including a customary sunrise service on the beach held every Easter by Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. Even before the city’s order, however, Our Lady of Guadalupe and religious institutions in the South Bay had responded to the coronavirus pandemic by moving services online and cancelling in-person events and celebrations.
In other jurisdictions including the City of Los Angeles, officials have readied for Sunday park closures by installing fencing that would rope off grass and open space. On Friday afternoon at Valley Park, Hermosa’s largest, the park was open, if uncrowded, with signs installed weeks ago urging people not to engage in group activities or use widely shared spaces like jungle gyms. According to the statement from Hermosa, the city will install temporary signage alerting people of the closures that will be taken down Monday. Police and city staff will also be stationed at parks on Sunday to inform residents of the closures and, if necessary, issue citations.