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La Jollans ‘thrilled’ as beaches reopen for surfing, swimming, walking and jogging

Walkers stroll along La Jolla Shores beach at 7:30 a.m. April 27 after the beach was reopened following a closure due to coronavirus restrictions.
Walkers stroll along La Jolla Shores beach at 7:30 a.m. April 27 after the beach was reopened following a closure due to coronavirus restrictions.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

One hour after the 6:04 a.m. sunrise Monday, the beach at La Jolla Shores was freckled with surfers and walkers appreciative that ocean access was once again allowed after more than a month of being shut down due to efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Effective April 27, beaches citywide opened with guidelines as to what is permitted, notably that beach-goers are asked to maintain physical distancing and that gathering and sitting or lying on the sand are not allowed (see below for a complete list).

“The only way beaches can reopen and stay open is if the regulations developed by public health officials and regional lifeguards are followed,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “Public health concerns from overcrowding led to the closure of beaches in the first place back in March, and decisions will continue to be made with the goal of protecting the well-being of every San Diegan.”

The limited use is the first of a two-phase plan to fully reopen the beaches. An implementation date for the second phase of beach, bay and ocean reopenings in the city of San Diego will be made in coordination with county public health officials.

Swimmer Gina Magit said she was “thrilled” that the beaches were open again and “cautiously optimistic” that beach-goers would respect the rules. “We need to be able to continue to the beach,” she said.

Surfers hit the water off La Jolla Shores on April 27.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Walkers Dana and Michael Mahoney of La Jolla “came here especially to get coffee and take a walk on the beach today because we haven’t been able to,” Dana said.

Michael didn’t like the idea of not allowing people to sit. “When you are sitting, you are with your spouse or someone you live with, so you [shouldn’t] need to keep six feet [apart],” he said.

At Windansea beach, grateful beach-goers were enjoying the water while following the rules.

Surfer and La Jolla resident Jeff McCoy said surfers at Windansea had "a lot of pent-up energy" as the beach reopened April 27 after a month-long closure.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Jeff McCoy, a lifetime resident of La Jolla and a surfer for more than 50 years, said the reopening was “interesting.”

“There were a lot of built-up emotions this morning, some confrontations with people so hyper,” he said.

The inability to surf for several weeks left many “frustrated,” McCoy said. “There was a lot of pent-up energy that people don’t have an outlet for. There was some jawing going on this morning as people got back in and saw someone in the way as an obstacle.”

McCoy said he was happy to be surfing again. “The last several weeks, I set up a bungee system in a client’s pool up the street. I would paddle every day for an hour and half, just doing the bungee, but it’s not the same as the salt water.”

Beach-goers walk at Windansea in La Jolla the morning of April 27.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Walking several yards away, Sarah, who declined to give her last name, said: “It’s so important to have your feet in the sand, to feel grounded. One of the reasons we live in San Diego is we live outside.”

Mandated face coverings

Beginning Friday, May 1, all San Diego County residents will be required to cover their faces while out in public and within six feet of someone who is not a member of their household.

When asked during his April 27 news conference about face-covering regulation at the beaches, Faulconer said: “The county order is out on facial coverings … in public. ... It will be up to the different jurisdictions and cities to enforce that, but our Police Department will be out there reminding folks, with an educational posture, what the rules are and we’re going to expect San Diegans to comply with that as well.”

Surfer Sara Homakie arrived at La Jolla Shores around 6:15 a.m. April 27. She observed that “no one is wearing a mask. It’s not really functional and I don’t know how that would work [in the water]. I didn’t know if I would get nabbed while walking to my car. But maybe that will be the next product to be developed.”

Michael Mahoney said, “When I go to the store or to get coffee, I wear a mask, but at the beach I figured I’m going to be so many feet from someone, so I don’t.”

Dana Mahoney added: “I also would like to get some of the fresh air. It’s hard to do that when you wear the masks.”

Rules for beach access

Oceans:

Only swimming, surfing and single-person paddleboarding and kayaking are allowed.

Beaches and shorelines:

Only walking and running are allowed.

No stopping, sitting or lying down.

Closed:

Boardwalks

Piers

Parking lots

Not permitted:

Gatherings

Activities without physical distancing

Boating ◆