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Coronavirus Update: Manhattan Beach Gathers Together, Distantly

Mar 22, 2020 05:31PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

A "socially distant" neighborhood band with "socially distant" dancers

Manhattan Beach residents continue to adapt to life during the coronavirus COVID-19 quarantine, even as the L.A. County Department of Public Health called for further social restrictions and confirmed a total of seven cases in town. 

Following are a series of updates from around town over the weekend, as community members grappled with supporting each other while remaining "socially distant."

Being Social While Socially Distant

Manhattan Beach residents tried to keep spirits up over the weekend by looking for new ways to connect while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

On several blocks, neighbors gathered in their respective front lawns to share happy hour and conversation while remaining the requisite six feet apart or more.

One child on the South end walk streets got treated to a "socially distant" 9th birthday party by neighbors. According to resident Amy Pham, some parents teamed up and sent out an email, and at 3:00 p.m. residents all came out in their front yards to sing "Happy Birthday,."

"It was amazing," said Pham. "One neighbor brought out her keyboards and played the music, and other kids brought little gifts. We all stayed apart, and yet we're more together than ever."

On a cul-de-sac in East Manhattan Beach, residents formed an impromptu band, comprised of a professional musician and enthusiastic amateurs. As the fledgling group worked its way through Beatles classics, neighbors came to appreciate the music from a distance. 

Resident Greg Sowders, a professional musician who is the longtime drummer for the popular Los Angeles band The Long Ryders, called the event a "fun neighborhood jam."

"You've just got to make people happy - that's the best vaccination," said Sowders. "More music, less germs."

Beach Parking Frustrations

Meanwhile residents took to social media to complain about people flooding the Strand and the beach. In particular, the 500-car parking lot at the beach in North Manhattan Beach/El Porto has been packed with cars as people come to the beach for fresh air and exercise.

DigMB reached out to Mayor Richard Montgomery, who confirmed that the parking lots are county-owned, not city-owned. Nevertheless, the City Council will be discussing the crowding/access issue at its meeting at 3:00 p.m. on Monday (viewable online).

Additionally, the city of Manhattan Beach released the following statement: "The city shares your concerns with the high level of activity near the beach, this despite the Safer at Home order from the County Department of Public Health. We are evaluating further actions to discourage people from congregating. In the meantime, thanks to those of you who are doing your part to protect your health and the safety of those around you."

For reference, the city of Santa Monica has closed its beach parking lots because of the crowds. 

Seven Cases Confirmed in Manhattan Beach

On Sunday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed a total of seven COVID-19 cases in Manhattan Beach.

In a statement, the LADPH urged residents in all locations to continue practicing social distancing and recommended health and safety practices.

"Because there are positive cases across the entire county, the public should not think one location is safer than the other," said the LAPDH statement.

Tighter Restrictions on Public Gatherings

On Saturday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health also issued a new public health order calling for further restrictions on public gatherings.The enhanced public health order prohibits all indoor and outdoor public and private gatherings and events. It specifically requires all businesses to cease in-person operations and close to the public, unless the business is defined as an "essential business" by the LADPH. It is effective through April 19.

As a refresher, the order defines as essential businesses: grocery stores; supermarkets; certified farmers' markets (although the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market is suspended until further notice); drugstores; convenience stores; pet supply stores; food processors and packagers; organizations that provide food, shelter, and social services; media operations; gas stations and auto repair facilities; banks, credit unions, and financial institutions; hardware stores and nurseries; plumbers, electricians, janitorial and maintenance operations; educational institutions for the purpose of facilitating remote learning; laundry service providers; restaurants that provide pickup and delivery service only; office supply companies; shipping services; airline and transportation companies; home-based care for pets, seniors, or children; residential facilities and shelters; bookkeeping and accounting services for the purposes of complying with legally mandated activities; military and defense contractors; child care providers for the children of those carrying out these activities; hotels and motels; and construction workers. (See the full order for the complete list).

All essential businesses must require patrons, visitors, and employees to be separated by six feet, to the extent feasible and provide access to hand washing facilities with soap and water or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

In a statement accompanying the order, the LAPDH clarified that golf courses and personal grooming services (including hair and nail salons) are non-essential services that are closed.

Worth noting: The order does not prohibit any individual or family from engaging in outdoor activities, such as hiking, walking, biking, or shopping at essential businesses, including grocery stores and restaurants offering delivery, drive thru or carry out service, so long as everyone practices social distancing "to the extent practical."

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