Temporary closures ahead of anticipated easter crowds
By Sam Catanzaro
Anticipating increased used, Santa Monica is shutting down farmers markets and parks over Easter weekend to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as county health officials announce that the virus has hospitalized nearly a quarter of people who have tested positive.
On Wednesday, Santa Monica Farmers Markets said that all farmers markets in the city will be closed temporarily over the weekend.
“We were planning to close the Main Street Market this weekend to align with Easter, as many other grocery retailers are also planning to be closed this upcoming Sunday. Given the critical timing with COVID-19 public health recommendations for LA County residents to avoid even grocery shopping, it feels like it is an optimal time to pause ALL markets (Saturday Downtown, Saturday Pico, and Sunday Main Street) for one weekend,” Santa Monica Farmers Markets wrote in a Facebook post. “We have been trying our best to be responsive to the changing demands of the developing health situation, and taking a break during this critical virus spread moment will also allow the SMFMS team to take time to step back and evaluate our approach strategically, rather than reactively.”
According to Santa Monica Farmers Markets, this is intended only as a temporary break and that it is planning to be up and running again next week for the Wednesday Farmers Market in Downtown Santa Monica.
In addition, on Thursday the City of Santa Monica announced that it will temporarily close all parks effective Sunday, April 12 from midnight through 11:59 p.m. According to the City, these closures are in anticipation of increased travel to and use of Santa Monica parks and Farmers Markets over the Easter holiday
“This is a critical week that requires we take aggressive steps like temporarily closing all parks for a day,” shared City Manager and Emergency Operations Director Rick Cole. “We’re also reluctantly suspending our Farmer’s Markets because we need people to stay home to crush the curve. Lives of loved ones and the ability to reopen our community both depend on bold action now.”
As of Thursday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has identified 7,955 cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, including 223 deaths. 82 of the positive cases are in Santa Monica, according to Public Health.
Public Health says that 1,894 people who tested positive for COVID-19 (24 percent of positive cases) have been hospitalized at some point during their illness.
“Today’s heartbreaking announcement of additional deaths related to COVID-19 is a reminder of the seriousness of the situation we are in as a community, and we extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones who have experienced these tragic losses,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health. “Although our case numbers continue to rise along with the number of people who have died, the effectiveness of our collective effort to slow the spread are apparent. These actions, although immensely disruptive as they are, are very powerful in helping to prevent infections, and we need to keep up this difficult work to slow the spread of COVID-19 for the next few weeks. It’s a good idea to continue to plan for staying home as much as possible, including having food, medicine and other essential supplies delivered, and to check on the most vulnerable among us.”
In addition, testing capacity continues to increase in LA county, with almost 38,400 individuals tested and 15 percent of people testing positive, the County said Thursday.
County health officials say that clean cloth face coverings should be used anytime individuals will be in contact with other people who are not household members in public or private spaces, a recommendation that Santa Monica made mandatory for shoppers starting Friday.