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Southern Californians return to beaches ahead of long pandemic summer

The new rules imposed by county health officials allow residents back to the shore as long as they wear masks when not in the water and stay “active” by surfing, swimming or running. Sitting on the sand is still prohibited.

“I found it really good. People are paying attention, nobody’s really lounging out there because otherwise (Governor Gavin) Newsom is going to have a cow, because the rule is just to keep moving,” said Caron Carus at Manhattan Beach, southwest of Los Angeles.

The closure of California’s beaches by Newsom or local officials has been a point of contention as U.S. states slowly lift unprecedented clampdowns imposed on residents and businesses in March to control the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday the National Park Service announced limited access to Grand Canyon and Yellowstone national parks, which were both closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Tuesday that stay-at-home rules for some 10 million residents, including the city of Los Angeles, would likely remain in force through the summer, although some restrictions would be eased.

Many state governors, concerned about the economic fallout from prolonged lockdowns, have said they would lift restrictions carefully and gradually, requiring businesses to maintain physical distance from customers and clean surfaces frequently.

So far 16 California counties have been granted permission by the state to loosen guidelines, allowing the return of sit-down dining in restaurants and destination retail, although with social distancing modifications.

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