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Morning Briefing: It's Memorial Day Weekend And the Beaches And Parks Are Less Crowded (But Far From Empty)

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Circles designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing line San Francisco's Dolores Park, Thursday, May 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
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Over the past week, I've been seeing photos from cities that are doing outdoor social distancing a little differently. In New York and San Francisco parks, white circles are painted on the grass, with people tucked neatly inside, like a performance art piece from the future.

I was especially struck by the images from a beach in the South of France, where officials have errected rope barries to give everyone a designated six-foot-apart place to relax on the sand.

Some might argue that's not necessary in a city as sprawling as L.A., where our beaches and parks are vast and plentiful, with plenty of room for distancing.

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But like the experts say, once we get comfy on the beach or in the park, it's easy to inch closer to one another and forget, for a moment, that our world is irrevocably changed.

And even though the virus is much less likely to spread outdoors, I still like the idea of a roped-off section of space, where I can let my guard down and stop worrying about the guy with the dog who walked by an inch away from me. I DON'T EVEN KNOW HIM! But seriously, can we get some white circles over here? I'd really like to sit in one.

Keep reading for more on what’s going on in L.A., and enjoy your long weekend, whether or not you leave the house.

Gina Pollack


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The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are now 44,121 coronavirus cases and 2,092 deaths in L.A. County, and at least 90,777 cases and 3,669 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are more than 5.2 million cases and over 340,000 deaths. California’s numbers are improving, with hospitalizations down 7.5% over the past two weeks.

Beach Vibes: Venice Beach is (almost) back to normal, despite general dystopian-ness of seeing people relaxing with face masks on. A police sergeant told KPCC/LAist reporter Josie Huang that there were about 70% fewer visitors than the holiday weekend would usually bring. Guidelines weren't universally followed, but no one in law enforcement seemed to mind.

Could L.A. Be The Next New Orleans?: California's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issued a note that allows dining establishments already licensed to sell alcohol to do it in areas adjacent to their business — in the parklets, sidewalks and parking spots envisioned by "open streets" proponents. And the bars have to partner with a food provider. This would only happen in areas where stay-at-home orders have been lifted though, so, for L.A., we're talking future future.

We're surrounded on (almost) all sides by counties that are gradually reopening restaurants for dine-in service and stores for indoor shopping. Ventura was the pioneer in SoCal, getting permission to move ahead of schedule. Riverside took it a step further by opening community pools. Orange County followed suit, despite its rising death count.

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Let's Get Spiritual: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Gov. Newsom's ban on in-person church services. But that didn't stop some pastors from moving ahead with in-person prayer. Yesterday marked the end of Ramadan, but the celebratory dinners looked different this year.

Nature's Fruit: You won't be able to get free strawberry cake at the Garden Grove festival this year, but you can enjoy nature by sleeping in it ... in the spots where camping is actually allowed. We have a list for that.


Your Moment Of Zen

This is how Southern France is doing beach time during the pandemic. It's kind of brilliant. And oddly comforting. L.A., can we get in on this?

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TBH, I'd like some mandated personal space even without a highly contagious virus.

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A woman sunbathes in a roped-off distancing zone marked out by the municipality along the beaches in La Grande Motte, southern France, as the nation eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The local municipality dubbed this set up "organized beaches," the first in France to implement separated zones for beachgoers in order to respect social distancing. (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP)

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