Gov. Closing All California Beaches After Newport Beach Bombs Social Distancing
Sacramento, CA – Police chiefs across the state got a memo on Wednesday from Governor Gavin Newsom that said he planned to announce he was closing all California beaches effective Friday.
“After the well-publicized media coverage of overcrowded beaches this past weekend, in violation of Governor Newsom's Shelter in Place Order, the Governor will be announcing tomorrow that ALL beaches and all state parks in California will be closed, effective Friday, May 1st,” the law enforcement bulletin sent to chiefs read, according to KGTV.
“We wanted to give all of our members a heads up about this in order to provide time for you to plan for any situations you might expect as a result, knowing each community has its own dynamics,” the memo, which was leaked to the media, read.
Newsom told reporters at a press conference on April 29 that five percent of the 100 beaches along the California coastline had been packed the prior weekend, despite warnings to practice social distancing, CNN reported.
Newport Beach in Orange County, just south of Los Angeles, was one of the worst offenders, with 90,000 beachgoers packing the shores on Saturday and Sunday despite the state’s ongoing stay-at-home order and social distancing guidelines to help stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite negative media attention worldwide after pictures of Newport Beach went viral, the Newport Beach City Council voted Tuesday to keep the beaches open, CNN reported.
On Monday, Newsom castigated those who had spent the weekend on the beach in close proximity to other people and warned they were going to cause him to extend the state’s stay-at-home order.
"This virus doesn't take the weekends off. This virus doesn't go home. We have to manage and augment our behavior," the governor said. "The only thing that will set us back is people stopping practicing physical distancing."
California announced plans for a phased re-opening strategy on Tuesday, CNN reported.
Newsom said the state was still in the first stage where everyone should stay at home, and added that the next stage of re-opening schools and businesses was still “weeks away.”
The news of the planned beach closings did not go over well in many areas.
San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob has called on the governor to “immediately rescind” his decision to close all of the beaches, KGTV reported.
The mayor of San Diego had just announced the re-opening of beaches for the purposes of exercise only, and Jacob said it wasn’t fair to penalize San Diego County for the bad actions of people in other regions of the state.
“We are all in a difficult situation with the health crisis, and now is not the time to further erode the judgment and authority of county public health officers and local government leaders,” Jacob wrote a letter to Newsom.
“While you have every right to be concerned about areas of California that have been flooded with beachgoers, not every region experienced the same activity and shouldn’t be treated with a broad brush,” she continued. “The re-opening plan in San Diego County was based on data and executed successfully.”
“We are pleased to say that social distancing, gathering restrictions, sanitation protocols and facial coverings were appropriately maintained. Our residents did everything we asked. If that changes, the public health officer, law enforcement and local elected officials in San Diego County should have the ability to take action,” she added.
The county supervisor wrapped up her missive by telling the governor to be more flexible and allow regions to handle the issue at a local level, according to KGTV.