All California beaches to close after Gov. Newsom sees Orange County crowds amid COVID-19 pandemic

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Concerned after seeing thousands of people on Orange County beaches this weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom is ordering the closure of all beaches in California, as well as all state parks, ABC's Los Angeles affiliate KABC has learned.

The order will be effective Friday.

A memo by the California Police Chiefs Association obtained by KABC outlines the decision, saying it was triggered "after the well-publicized media coverage of overcrowded beaches this past weekend."

During this weekend's Southern California heat wave, a number of beaches in Orange County were visibly crowded with thousands of people. The sight clearly disturbed the governor, who admonished beachgoers in a press conference on Monday.

He said such risky behavior could delay the state's ability to reopen other activities as it tries to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"Those images are an example of what not to see, what not to do if we're going to make the meaningful progress we've made the past couple of weeks," Newsom said.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom is warning Californians against risky behavior as images were displayed of crowded beaches over the weekend.




Several local officials defended the decision to keep beaches open, with some insisting that beachgoers were maintaining social distancing.

Orange County Board of Supervisors member Donald Wagner on Wednesday acknowledged the governor's ability to close the county's beaches, but said "it is not wise to do so."

"Medical professionals tell us the importance of fresh air and sunlight in fighting infectious diseases, including mental health benefits," Wagner wrote.

"Moreover, Orange County citizens have been cooperative with California state and county restrictions thus far. I fear that this overreaction from the state will undermine that cooperative attitude and our collective efforts to fight the disease, based on the best available medical information."

The Newport Beach City Council on Tuesday considered an ordinance to close the beaches for several weekends, but decided not to approve it.

The Laguna Beach City Council, which closed its beaches last month, voted Tuesday to reopen them for "active use only'' on weekdays beginning Monday. Beachgoers were to be allowed if they kept 6 feet apart, and they were prohibited from sitting down, putting a beach towel or chair on the sand. Only active uses like running or swimming were allowed.

Some of those beach cities have also seen large protests seeking to lift the stay-at-home orders. More than 200 showed up at one such rally in Huntington Beach and many of them were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
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