Source: justin Sullivan / Mindy Schauer/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Newport Beach Pier in Newport Beach on Saturday, April 25, 2020

California to close beaches after photos of crowds defying stay-at-home order go viral online



California Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to close beaches and state parks in Orange County after thousands of people flooded beaches over the weekend despite a stay-at-home order.

Bill Melugin of Fox 11 Los Angeles shared a memo that he had obtained, which directed all California police chiefs to close all beaches and state parks from May 1.

Source: Mindy Schauer/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Newport Beach Pier in Newport Beach on Saturday, April 25, 2020

The decision comes after Newsom criticized people in Orange County for taking to the beach over the weekend.  

"I laid out in very detailed terms yesterday, the strategy for California to make meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order,” Gov. Newsom said. "Orange County has the fourth-highest number of people of all 58 counties, hospitalized in the state of California. I’m concerned about that." 

“The virus is as transmittable as it's ever been. ... It is ubiquitous, it is invisible, and it remains deadly. Ask the 45 families who lost a loved one in the last 48 hours,” Newsom added.

Source: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Huntington Beach on April 25, 2020.

"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 bulletin reads in part. "State Parks personnel will be out in to help support local efforts as well." 

Orange County Supervisor Donald Wagner responded to the memo by saying that the decision was a mistake. 

"I believe Governor Newsom has the power to close Orange County beaches," Wagner said. "However, 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." 

“Obviously this is a very serious issue and we have to stay ahead of it,” said Kevin Muldoon, a Newport Beach city councilor. “But it’s no cause for panic to close our beaches, to be afraid of others especially if they keep their distance.” 

"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." 

Beach-goers faced criticism as more than 50,000 attended beaches amid a heatwave. Individuals chose to ignore stay-at-home orders even as deaths in the state continued to climb.

One user wrote: "These pictures were taken at Newport Beach, California on April 24th, despite the fact that California has been seeing a surge in Covid cases. Covid-19 isnt going to be under control anytime soon, bcz too many Americans are more concerned with their individual lives over society."

Another user added: "PLEASE F**KING LISTEN AND JUST STAY HOME. California has like ~3 MORE WEEKS before we hit 0 deaths a day. LESS TIME THAN OTHER STATES. please don’t F**KING go to the BEACH now so we can ALL get a little more freedom in the coming months F**K!!! aLso so ??? LESS PEOPLE DIE."

The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.  

More From Megaphone