What to do (and avoid) this Fourth of July weekend

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Health officials are imploring people to avoid Fourth of July gatherings with friends and family this weekend. Photo by Pixabay.

What happens when the Fourth of July, a national holiday known for barbequing, fireworks, and partying, coincides with an international pandemic?

That means beach closures, fireworks show cancellations, and declined invitations to backyard BBQs.Here’s a rundown of what’s open and closed this weekend.

Fireworks go virtual

All major public fireworks displays have been canceled. Some outliers are still planning to shoot them off, including 29 Palms, Victorville, and Apple Valley, but they’re asking people to watch from home.

San Bernardino has sold out their drive-in style event, where spectators watch the fireworks go off at San Manuel Stadium while tailgating in the parking lot. 

Several cities, including Rancho Cucamonga, are doing fireworks displays that people can livestream from home.

Local fire departments are expecting more amateur fireworks compared to past Fourth of Julys, due to the cancellation of public events and stay-at-home orders, and are warning residents about the dangers of setting off fireworks at home.

“Sometimes they go off too early, and people have significant hand injuries. We’ve even seen children lose their fingers,” says Erik Scott from the LA City Fire Department. “Sometimes the wick takes longer than thought, or people aren’t paying attention. Then they get inquisitive, they run up, and that's when it explodes and causes the injury.”

He says projectile fireworks can also set nearby trees aflame, which can spread to nearby grass and cause a brush fire.

Setting off your own fireworks is illegal in the City of Los Angeles and many other parts of Southern California.

Skip the beach

LA County is shutting down all its beaches Friday through Sunday. Ventura County, Orange County, and Santa Barbara County are doing the same.

Dine al fresco, but bring your mask

Nineteen counties, including LA, Orange, Ventura, and Santa Barbara are shutting down indoor dining at restaurants. Takeout and outdoor dining is still allowed.

Restaurant owners are scrambling to figure out the best system to handle historically busy summer weekends during a pandemic. 

During Memorial Day weekend, Ventura restaurant owner Aaron Duncan said his pizza place and tap room, Fluid State, saw a massive influx of Angelenos customers, and many of them weren’t wearing masks or respecting the rules. His hosts, waiters, and other dining staff bore the brunt of enforcing mask wearing and physical distancing.

So the following weekend, he instituted a “Locals Only” policy, where anyone who wanted to dine-in had to prove they lived in the 805 region.

Heading into the Fourth of July weekend, he’s taking a slightly less controversial approach. Fluid State is taking online reservations only to avoid long wait times, take enforcement pressure off his staff, and help with contact tracing if a COVID-19 case arises.

Fire up the grill

Enjoy the nice weather by grilling and eating ice cream alongside your immediate family or “pod.” But if your neighbor, friend, or extended family member invites you over, consider politely declining.

“We may come with masks,” said Governor Gavin Newsom at Wednesday’s press conference. “We may be wearing those masks at the beginning of that time together. But invariably, after a few hours, after a drink or two, after eating some food, masks are put aside and families begin to mix that hadn’t seen each other in some time and the prospect of increased transmission presents itself.”