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Venice Beach Reopens With Loose Compliance And Enforcement

Venice Beach was less crowded than usual on its first day of reopening. Josie Huang/KPCC

Hare Krishnas twirled on the boardwalk, reggae musicians hawked their CDs, and graffiti artists sprayed new designs dreamt up during quarantine.

Venice Beach showed glimpses of its old self Saturday, but L.A.’s iconic counter-culture vortex was decidedly more subdued than usual.

“I would say it's like 70% less than what this weekend would bring normally,” said Los Angeles Police Sgt. Theresa Skinner, who oversees the department’s Venice Beach detail.

That made it was possible to keep a wide berth from one another on the beach, though much harder on the boardwalk. Some protected themselves with face coverings as has been recommended by authorities, but some did not.

Police were educating beachgoers about face coverings rather than citing them.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday that city beaches would continute to stay open for 'active use,' use such as surfing, swimming and jogging, as well as cycling along the newly-reopened bike paths. He discouraged sunbathing, but that didn't stop beachgoers from just doing it. And why not, when you won't get a ticket for breaking the rules?

Joudi Hamed, a Citrus College student from Glendora, was among those who showed up to lounge on the sand.

“You’re going to get it at some point,” Hamed said of COVID-19. “Might as well enjoy life."


The Tourists Are Missing, But Venice Beach Is Still A Draw

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Riverside And Ventura Open Restaurants For Dine-In Service, In-Store Shopping

A hint of what reopened dine-in service could look like during the coronavirus pandemic. A waitress serves a table at a restaurant in New Orleans, May 22, 2020. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

More than 40 counties statewide have gotten the go-ahead from Sacramento to reopen ahead of schedule.

Here's the latest from Ventura and Riverside, which joined Orange County in reopening restaurants for dine-in service as well as indoor shopping, with restrictions.


The county got the ok to reopen restaurants for dine-in service on Wednesday, as well as indoor shopping. Businesses must register and submit a physical distancing plan to public health officials before they can open their doors to customers, and staff will need to wear face covering.

Most beaches there will be open. But, like L.A., Orange, and San Diego counties, visitors won't be allowed to gather in groups or linger on the sand for too long. Many beach parking lots will remain closed.

Mike Powers, the executive officer for Ventura County, says that could change after the Memorial Day weekend, depending on how things go.

To date, 30 people have died from COVID-19 in Ventura County, with more than 900 people testing positive for the virus.


Riverside County is reopening restaurants for sit-down service, as well as some retailers for in-store shopping. Masks, physical distancing, and access to frequent handwashing are required.

The California Department of Public Health approved the move effective Friday morning.

Dr. Geoffrey Leung with the Riverside County health system says low hospitalizations for the coronarvirus and its two-to-four percent positivity rate helped make the county's case. But he says testing is key to opening safely. Two new test sites are opening in Corona and San Jacinto.

"This gives us a total of 16 community test sites across our entire county. We have a capacity now to do 4,200 tests per day," he said.

They are no beaches in the Inland Empire, but Riverside is opening private pools and spas, such as those run by homeowner associations and apartment complexes. Public health officials made that choice earlier this month, saying the coronavirus pathogen does not migrate in water.
Health department spokesman Jose Arballo says properly-maintained chlorine in pools and spas is a must. Plus these precautions:
"Continue the social distancing at the pools ... [and] keep the number of people around the pool to a minimum if you can."
County guidelines say you should also keep patio furniture a minimum of six-feet apart. And there should be hand sanitizer plus soap and water for regular hand washing. Large pool parties are not allowed and spas are for single use only, unless the other person is from the same household.

Riverside County has reported 6,464 cases of COVID-19 and 290 deaths.

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Orange County Loosens Stay-At-Home Restrictions As Death Count Rises

An aerial view show the Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach, California on May 02, 2020. (Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP)

The State of California today allowed Orange County to loosen stay-at-home restrictions, even as the sprawling region reported its highest daily death totals over the past 48 hours.

Now establishments in the O.C. are permitted to reopen for sit-down restaurant service, with a reservation. More indoor retailers can open, but that does not include businesses such as hair and nail salons. Outdoor museums can open again and some workers are returning to their offices in the manufacturing sector.

These changes comprise the start of the county's second phase of reopening.

“We understand that many businesses are hurting at this time and greatly want to re-open with as little issues as possible,” said Supervisor Don Wagner in a press release issued today. “However, the State is requiring training and assessments to be done prior to opening. We ask that businesses work as best as they can to meet these guidelines.”

Orange County today reported 12 new deaths — the county’s second-highest daily toll since the pandemic began. Its highest single day death total is 14, which was reported on Thursday. Orange County now has 5,157 cases and 130 fatalities.

Supervisor Andrew Do told KPCC/LAist that the county is prepared to handle a potential surge of COVID-19 infections:

“Our numbers have been low from the beginning, so any increase seems big as a rate of increase. Going forward, surveillance in the general population and stricter enforcement are the tools we will need to prevent a significant uptick.”

Court Upholds Newsom's Ban On Church Services

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Gov. Newsom's ban on in-person church services, but he plans to loosen restrictions in the coming days. Gabriel Cortes/LAist

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday night upheld Gov. Gavin Newsom's ban on in-person church services. The ruling came hours after Newsom said he planned to loosen restrictions on churches and religious gatherings in the coming days.

The vote was 2-1, with the dissenting vote coming from Judge Daniel Collins, who was nominated to the bench by President Donald Trump. Judge Barry Silverman, nominated to the court by former President Bill Clinton, and Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, nominated by former President Barack Obama, voted to uphold Newsom's ban.

In his coronavirus briefing Friday, the governor said he recognizes the importance of religion during the pandemic:

"At a time of so much anxiety and uncertainty, faith and that devotion to something higher and better and bigger than yourself becomes even more pronounced and more profound and more important."

The governor's comments came after President Trump said houses of worship are essential and ordered states to let them reopen this weekend.

Meanwhile, more than a thousand pastors in California have said they plan to defy the state's order if restrictions on churches are not lifted by the end of the month.

John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Church in Sun Valley, announced that he opened his church on Friday, adding that no one will be wearing masks because we all know that “masks don’t work.” The megachurch usually hosts a crowd of 8,000 worshippers.

MAY 24 UPDATE: In light of the Ninth Court ruling, MacArthur's church decided to delay its reopening.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said MacArthur was a pastor in Orange County. In addition, we added the names of the other two judges, as well as which president nominated them to the position.

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Which California Campgrounds Are Open Right Now?

Marta Jerebets, left, and Arthur Pettit pitch their tent on a campground at Joshua Tree National Park in California, May 19, 2020. The park reopened this week after a lengthy closure to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

If you plan to spend Memorial Day weekend (or any time this summer) sleeping in the great outdoors, there are a few things you should know.

A few campgrounds are slowly reopening, like those in Joshua Tree National Park, which opened earlier this week (with some restrictions). Group campgrounds are closed in the park, but all of the regular family sites are available. Admission to the park is still a thing ($30 per vehicle), and the National Park Service says rangers will only accept credit card payment to aid with social distancing at the entrance.

The campgrounds inside Joshua Tree are mostly available on a first-come, first-served basis, so you'll want to have a plan B and C in case they fill up quickly. Some are closed due to summer heat. The forecast on Memorial Day predicts highs of 93 degrees, and jumping to 99 by Tuesday, so prepare for instense weather if you're heading out there.

Here's what's open in Joshua Tree:

  • Black Rock Campground: Sites 40–60 and 66–99 are closed from May 25 to September 3. All other sites are first-come, first-served until Sept. 4, when they'll be reservation only.
  • Cottonwood Campground: Loop B is closed May 25 to Sept. 3. All other sites are first-come, first-served until Sept. 4, when they'll be reservation only.
  • Hidden Valley: All sites are first-come, first-served, year 'round.
  • Indian Cove: Sites 40–101 are closed until Sept. 3. All other sites are first-come, first-served from May 25- Sept. 4, when they'll be reservation only.
  • Jumbo Rocks Campground: All sites are first-come, first-served from May 25- Sept. 3


The San Bernardino National Forest, which include places such as Big Bear Lake and Wrightwood, has also opened some campgrounds. Shower facilities will be closed, however. Here's the list (all require advanced reservations, unless noted):

  • Barton Flats Campground
  • Big Pine Flat Family Campground: first-come, first-served only
  • Crab Flats Family Campground
  • Dogwood Family Campground
  • Green Valley Family Campground
  • Hanna Flat Family Campground
  • Heart Bar Family Campground
  • Holcomb Valley Campground:first-come, first-served only
  • Jenks Lake Day Use Area
  • North Shore Campground
  • Pineknot Family Campground
  • San Gorgonio Family Campground
  • Serrano Campground
  • South Fork Family Campground: first-come, first-served only
  • Wildhorse Equestrian Campground

Note: On Friday when campgrounds re-opened, rangers reported all of them were at full capacity, and some roads had "significant traffic delays."

Developed campsites in the Angeles National Forest are closed this weekend, but back country campsites are open for hikers. Park officals said they don't expect campsites to open until the end of May, at the "absolute earliest."

"Many of our sites will not be ready until later in the season. Due to the pandemic, our staff was unable to perform required maintenance," park officials posted on Twitter.

State park campgrounds across California remain closed, but check webpages for updates, as things are changing frequently.


Yosemite National Park is closed to all visitors until further notice. The L.A. Times reports a potential opening in June, with reservations for day use and limits to the number of visitors.

The Channel Islands remain open to visitors, but boat transportation is cancelled. (Current access is only avail by "private vessel," so find yourself a wealthy friend.) Death Valley is fully closed, incuding campgrounds and trails, until Stage 3 of reopening. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are also closed until at least June 1.

Sequoia National Forest near Kernville, is open, however.

During quarantine, while they weren't allowed to lead rafting trips, a few bored guides at Kern River Outfitters learned to code...and they managed to make a website that's a lot more user friendly than Reserve America (not hard to do because that website is the worst, but impressive nonetheless). The tool allows users to search open campsites in Sequoia National Forest, near the Kern. And while you can't go on guided rafting trips right now, you can still wade in the river or bring your own kayaks.

Officials say no matter what park you're headed to, make sure to double check the rules online before you go.

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How Coronavirus Has Changed Iftar For Muslims

A family sits at the table during the iftar meal in Rotterdam, Netherlands on April 24, 2020. (ROBIN UTRECHT/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

For many Muslims, this has been the strangest Ramadan ever.

There have been no big iftar meals with friends to break the daily fast. No gatherings at mosques or community centers. No trips to see family members who live far away. And as the holy month of prayer, reflection and fasting comes to a close, there won't be any big Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

But there has been a silver lining to all the social distancing. With less focus on food and socializing, many Muslims say they have found a profound sense of spiritual renewal amid the quarantine.

"For me, Ramadan has always been a time where you take a step back from your usual life," says Tia Faisal, who lives in Rancho Cucamonga. "It's actually like a spiritual lockdown, even without the pandemic. So in a way, this feels almost like a spiritual lockdown within a physical lockdown."


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There's No Garden Grove Strawberry Festival This Year

Strawberries. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

For the first time in its 62-year history, the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival has been cancelled.

Scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, the three-day, volunteer-run event would have featured a parade, a carnival and free strawberry cake. It typically draws 250,000 people and raises $100,000 for local nonprofit organizations. But this year, organizers nixed the event because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dawn Miller, donations chair for the event, has been with the festival for 34 years, and remembers some of the past celebrity guests.

"Mickey Rooney comes to mind. Ben Vereen. Pat Boone back in the day. Before me, I know there was Jayne Mansfield, Jimmy Durante and Steve Martin was our talent search winner in 1965," she said.

The theme for this year's parade was supposed to be "Celebrating the Olympics" and gold medal-winning diver Greg Louganis was slated to serve as Grand Marshall.

Organizers say the festival will return for Memorial Day weekend in 2021.

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Morning Briefing: The San Gabriel Valley’s Food Scene

An image of the famous wings wall on Melrose. (Bumdog Torres / LAist)

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The San Gabriel Valley is full of excellent restaurants, and throughout the pandemic, they’ve faced the same problems as other eateries and businesses.

Fiona Ng, the head producer at KPCC's AirTalk, lives in the SGV and worked together with LAist Food Editor Elina Shatkin to produce a short series about how these restaurants are doing. In her reporting, Fiona spoke with the owner of a hot pot restaurant who was literally giving away pots with every order, a boba shop attempting a grand reopening, and more.

“[Fiona] didn't go hunting for these stories,” writes Elina in the series round-up. “She discovered most of them while she was out and about, living her daily life… She's fluent in Cantonese and speaks Mandarin well enough to get by. And since she doesn't cook, she eats out... a lot. That kind of unique perspective and boots-on-the-ground experience is rare, and it can't be taught.”

Fortunately, Fiona shared that perspective with us. Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are now 43,052 coronavirus cases and 2,049 deaths in L.A. County, and at least 89,865 cases and 3,649 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are more than 5.2 million cases and over 337,000 deaths. California’s hospitalization and ICU numbers are improving, with hospitalizations down 7.5% over the past two weeks.

Money Matters: Hawaiian Gardens is L.A. County’s smallest city, and it’s been hit hard by the closure of its card room casino. Unemployment in L.A. County rose to a staggering 20.3% in April. The recently ousted head of Aviron Pictures, William Sadleir, was arrested this morning on federal fraud charges alleging he applied for $1.7 million in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.

The 2020 Census: Malibu and Bel Air are showing unusually low census response rates, and no one is quite sure why — but there are some theories. The deadline for the Census Bureau to turn in data will likely be delayed, which could have significant implications for redistricting in California.

Reopening L.A.: Guidelines for reopening churches will be coming soon. L.A. city officials launched a program to open up neighborhood streets for Angelenos to stay active while keeping a safe distance from other people.

L.A.’s Unhoused: A court order to “humanely relocate” people experiencing homelessness away from freeways was refined to say that homeless people who live within 500 feet of a freeway bridge or ramp must be relocated by Sept. 1.

Parenting: In today’s conversation about parenting in the time of quarantine, we talk about screen time. Before the pandemic, the issue of how much time we let our children spend on devices was already causing parents angst. But now that schooling and socializing is happening via screens, this issue is even more of a minefield.

Immigration: Advocacy groups have filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Homeland Security, alleging immigrant detainees have been subject to chemical exposure at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center. Several detainees have said the disinfectants used at the facility have caused eye irritation and some people to cough up blood.

Arts, Food And Entertainment: Inspired by Vivian Maier, a homeless photographer begins to get recognition for his work. AirTalk's Larry Mantle joins KPCC critics to review movies you can see at home. This week, it's The Lovebirds, The Trip To Greece, The Painter And The Thief and more. Here’s how the San Gabriel Valley’s restaurants are weathering the pandemic.

First Person: Columnist Erick Galindo writes about the experience of penning an obituary for an immigrant father who fell to COVID-19, and consoling his grieving family.

Your Moment Of Zen

Early childhood education reporter Mariana Dale stumbled across this scene in Pasadena.

(Mariana Dale / LAist)

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