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Orange County Closes Parks, Trails; Some OC Cities Shut Down Beaches

COSTA MESA (CBSLA) – Orange County shut down all its wilderness parks and trails Tuesday to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. And while all county-owned beaches remained open, the beach parking lots were closed in an attempt to stem large crowds.

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A man exercises on Venice Beach on March 23, 2020 in Venice, California. Parking lots at some popular beaches including Venice and Santa Monica beaches were closed today after crowds were seen on some beaches this weekend during the coronavirus pandemic. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti yesterday urged Angelenos again to practice physical distancing in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The county announced Monday night that parking lots for "all regional and wilderness parks" would be closed indefinitely, which included trailheads.

The O.C. Zoo in Irvine Regional Park was closed as well.

Orange County CEO Frank Kim then told Orange County supervisors Tuesday that parking lots to all of the county's parks and beaches were being closed to discourage visitors who have not been complying with the state's social distancing requirements during the COVID-19 emergency. That includes Aliso Beach, Capistrano Beach, Dana Point Harbor, Newport Harbor, Salt Creek Beach and Sunset Harbour.

The supervisors attempted to vote on the restrictions themselves Tuesday after discussing the issue, as has been done in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, but there was concern about whether the board could do so right away while still complying with Brown Act regulations governing open meetings.

So the board left it up to Kim to make the change and restrict access to the parking lots.

Meanwhile, some individual O.C. cities went ahead and decided to close their beaches after massive crowds descended on them over the weekend, making it difficult for people to engage in social distancing.

The city of Seal Beach closed all its beaches and parks, while Costa Mesa closed all its city parks and its city-owned golf course.

The Laguna Beach City Council also ordered the closure of its beaches Monday evening, according to the Daily Pilot.

The city of Huntington Beach closed its pier and parks as well, although its beaches were still open to surfers and runners.

"It was just a madhouse down here, so we stayed away," Huntington Beach resident Allan Ansdell told CBS2 Tuesday concerning the weekend crowds.

The city of Newport Beach closed all its parks and playgrounds. It reported Tuesday it was closing all its beach parking lots and its piers.

RELATED: LA Trails, Golf Courses Closed Due To Large Weekend Crowds

On Monday, the state announced that parking lots at all state beaches and state parks would be closed to try and stem the number of visitors.

In L.A. County meanwhile, Santa Monica Sunday was forced to close all its beach parking lots in an attempt to keep people off the beaches, bike paths and out of Palisades Park. The Santa Monica Pier has been closed since early last week.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti closed all parking lots for city beaches, which include Cabrillo and Venice. The Venice Boardwalk was closed as well.

On March 17, O.C. Health Officer Dr. Nicole Quick issued an emergency order banning all public and private gatherings outside of essential services and to-go service for restaurants through March 31.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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