LOS ANGELES: The beaches have reopened in California, as the state enters phase two of Governor Gavin Newsom’s four-phase plan to transition out of the COVID-19 “stay at home” order.
But the seaside is nowhere near as busy as it once was, as many people are choosing to remain indoors.
Californian residents told Arab News they were relieved to be able to get outside again but were conscious of maintaining social distancing measures.
“We are really good about staying 6 feet apart,” said beachgoer Clarie Pignataro, referencing the common social distancing tactic. “As long as other people respect that, yeah I think it’s really nice to be outside. We’re in California. That’s why we live here.”
Social distancing restrictions are still in place across the state of 39.5 million people.
In Los Angeles County, the seaside has opened for running, biking and swimming, but stationary activities like sunbathing are not allowed. Similarly, many recreation hotspots, such as the famous Santa Monica Pier, remain closed.
Many, such as cyclist Julio Buendia, spoke in favor of the safety measures.
“Having these restrictions makes me feel a little bit safer,” he said. “As long as people are wearing their masks, at least staying six feet away, I think California’s done a really good job of flattening the curve.”
Nonessential retail stores are gradually reopening. But with foot traffic down and store owners shifting focus to delivery, curb-side pickup and online shopping, it’s a slow process.
However some small businesses, such as farmer’s market vendors, have been able to make the transition and keep their customers.
“I think it’s a good thing that things are starting to open slowly,” said farmer market patron, Cedric Bruaksprejean.
“It has to be good for the economy, for the city, for the people, for the community. A little less stress as far as staying in the house so much. It gets you a little breath of fresh air.”
As California takes its first steps away from the uncertain times of the pandemic, the question remains: what is the new normal going to look like and how long will it take to get there?
“I definitely don’t think things will be back to normal in the next two or three months, said Buendia. “But I think there definitely is some flexibility for people to be able to at least go out and at least if they’re safe be able to enjoy the sunshine here.”