Surf’s up and so are new beach rules to prevent virus spread

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FILE - In this Wednesday, May 13, 2020, file, photo beachgoers walk and exercise on the beach in Malibu, Calif. Masks are required at Los Angeles County beaches, which reopened Wednesday to join counterparts in other states that have allowed a somewhat limited return to famed stretches of sand. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – They arrived at the beach by car, skateboard and on bare feet. They carried Frisbees, cameras and surfboards. They wore running shorts, yoga pants and wetsuits.

Many wore masks.

That was the starkest difference this week apart from a moment in time in March that seems hard to conjure now — before beaches closed and face masks seemed like an extreme and maybe even ineffective protection from coronavirus.

No longer. Masks are now required at Los Angeles County beaches, which reopened Wednesday, to join counterparts in other states that have allowed a somewhat limited return to famed stretches of sand.

“You get some side eyes if you don’t wear a mask,” said Tom Ventura, who sported a light blue face covering with white polka dots while cooling down after his morning run Thursday in Santa Monica.

Along the California coast and in states known for silky sands, warm waters and ample sun, the surf is up along with a new set of rules posted in the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Beachgoers in LA County have to remain active — walking, running or swimming. No sunbathing. No picnics. No volleyball. Parking lots, piers and a popular 22-mile (35.4-kilometer) bike path that strings together Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan and Torrance beaches are also closed.

Similar rules are in place throughout the state, as well as in Florida and Hawaii, though masks are not required at many beaches. Tanning and even picnics are permitted in some places, though people are generally told to only spend time with family members and not gather in large groups.