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LB warns Boardwalk may be closed if people continue to gather there in large numbers, as has been the case in recent days

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In an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus, the City of Long Beach Thursday warned that it may be forced to close the Boardwalk if people continue to congregate there in large numbers.

"We desperately want to keep the Boardwalk open," said John McNally, the newly-appointed executive assistant to City Manager Donna Gayden. "We want to people to go out an exercise and get fresh air. The Boardwalk is the heart and soul of our city,"

People have been gathering on the Boardwalk as Long Beach schools are closed, as are restaurants, bars and most every store.

"But," he said, "this a community disease and it is spreading. If people are not practicing social distance, we may be forced to close. Whether the Boardwalk remains open is up to the people of Long Beach."

Already, the city has closed the six excise sites on the Boardwalk. These are bars people use to chin and stretch.

Signs have been posted at all Boardwalk entrances warning people to maintain social distance, and police patrols have been increased.

McNally said city officials will be closely monitoring the situation at the Boardwalk and may make a decision within the next few days about keeping it open.

"If we do close it, it will be for the duration" of the epidemic," he said.

The Boardwalk attracts hundreds of people a day, and thousands on summer holiday weekends. It is one the city's best-known landmarks.

In a message to residents, City Council President John Bendo said, "The Boardwalk and Beach remain open for the time being, but that is subject to change. Police patrols on the Boardwalk have been increased and signs have been deployed to remind people to practice safe social distancing.

"We sincerely hope these measures are effective so the Boardwalk and beach can remain open. We have reached out to our partners in the local news media to reiterate that it is not safe for people to leave their communities and come to our City for exercise."

He added that city buses are operating on their normal schedule.

Restaurants in Long Beach are offering only take-out service, and many businesses are closed.