Women enjoy a barrage of bubbles made by Alan James at the Ocean Beach Pier. Photo by Chris Stone

Day 1 of San Diego’s new beach rules saw city officials congratulating beachgoers. But a sand version of whack-a-mole ensued in Ocean Beach as lifeguards scurried to keep people moving.

At La Jolla’s Windansea and Tourmaline Surf Park Beach north of Crystal Pier, sun-seekers got mainly good grades. But Ocean Beach saw some lifeguards look weary.

Lifeguards near the OB Pier dealt both with water safety problems — having to race into surf to check on people or warn them of danger — and repeatedly educating people about no-sitting or lying rules.

No sooner did they talk to one seated beachgoer, then they approached others for playing ball. Then others would step on the sand and pull out a blanket, and lifeguards headed in that direction.

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They used a bullhorn or drove over to them to enforce pandemic rules.

Dealing with the middle ground between a complete beach closure and complete opening, lifeguards had to split their attention between water and sand, even though infractions were minor in nature.

One Ocean Beach lifeguard said people were falling back on old patterns — unaware of rules barring sitting on the beach and playing games. He still rated them “A.” But another, when asked to give a letter grade, said some exhibited “F” acts.

“They weren’t following the rules,” he said with some exasperation.

Sand-goers would face reclosing of the beaches if rules weren’t followed, he said.

One lifeguard at Windansea said it was “like herding cats,” but that people were behaving fine. Many surfers were in the water in La Jolla and Ocean Beach.

At Tourmaline, most people in the early afternoon were just strolling on the beach with few lifeguard warnings.

Lifeguards set up a post at Windansea as surfers flock to the waves. Photo by Chris Stone
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