In response to photos of crowded beaches in Orange County last weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said the COVID-19 lockdowns could continue if people keep packing the beaches, putting pressure on local officials to keep those beaches closed.
40,000 people went to Newport Beach today. The city has a population of 85,236.
— Farbod Esnaashari (@Farbod_E) April 25, 2020
“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 in a Monday press conference, as reported by ABC7. “The reality is we are just a few weeks away, not months away, from making measurable and meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order.”
Newsom added that the state’s reopening could be set back if spikes in COVID-19 cases continue to occur.
“The virus is as present and prevalent as it’s ever been. It’s transmissible as it’s ever been. Nothing has changed in that respect,” he said. ““As we change our behavior, we can impact the science, the health and the data. This virus doesn’t take the weekends off. This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful sunny day around our coasts … It doesn’t take any time off. It is ubiquitous. It is invisible. It remains deadly. Ask the 45 families who lost a loved one in the last 48 hours. Please, please continue physical distancing.”
As many as six Bay Area counties have announced they will be extending the shelter-in-place order to May 31. Newsom added that he will work with local governments on enforcement of these measures. Newsom said any decisions on reopening in the coming weeks would be done in coordination with other western states.
“Let’s just get through this thing together so that we can get so much farther, so much quicker,” Newsom said.
Newsom did credit people visiting the beaches in San Diego County for practicing social distancing.
As reported by Fox News, nearly 40,000 people visited Newport Beach over the weekend, according to city officials. If Newport closes, the neighboring beaches in Orange County could see larger crowds.
“If Newport Beach closes all of its beaches and that crowd decides to come here, we’ll have to make some serious decisions to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Huntington Beach Fire Battalion Chief Eric McCoy told Fox 11 Los Angeles.
On Monday, the Center for American Liberty announced it had filed a lawsuit against Gavin Newsom, on behalf of two state residents, for the governor’s order banning protests, arguing that the order deprives Californians of their First Amendment rights.
“Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 on March 19, 2020, ordering all residents to ‘heed current State public health directives,’ requiring all residents to stay at home,” the Center for American Liberty explains. “Neither the Governor’s Order or state public health directives exempt demonstrations, protests, or other First Amendment-protected activities from enforcement. The Governor has also specifically ordered the California Highway Patrol to deny protest/rally permits at the State Capitol, a core First Amendment speech venue. The Governor’s orders thus deny all California residents the right to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech, free assembly, and petition.”
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