California Gov. Closes Orange County Public Beaches After Warm Weekend Crowds

J. Clara Chan

All state and local beaches in Orange County will be temporarily closed after thousands of residents flocked to the beaches during a particularly warm weekend despite California’s “stay at home” order, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday.

Public beaches in L.A. County have been closed since late March, so thousands of visitors left home and crowded the shores of the still-open beaches in Orange County this past weekend, which raised “alarm bells” for state officials, Newsom said.

“People that are congregating there that weren’t practicing physical distancing, that may go back to their community outside of Orange County and may not even know that they contracted the disease,” Newsom said. “Now, they put other people at risk, put our hospital system at risk.”

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On Wednesday, a memo that had been sent to police chiefs suggested that Newsom would be ordering all beaches across the state and potentially state parks closed. But by Thursday, the governor appeared to back away from that direction.

“We got to make sure we get this right. Why undo all the great progress? Let’s move this state forward together,” he added, pointing to how Orange County, L.A. County and San Diego County are “three of the four largest areas of concerns” for the state regarding coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

The decision was met with pushback from some Orange County officials, with some calling the closures an “overreaction.”

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But Newsom said that he was confident the closures would be a “short-term adjustment.”

“If we can get some framework and guidelines to get this right, we can reopen very very quickly,” he said. “Let’s be guided by common sense.”

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