SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Concerned after seeing thousands of people on beaches in southern California this weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom is ordering a hard closure on beaches in the Orange County area.
Gov. Newsom made the announcement during his daily briefing to the state on Thursday. He did not provide an end date for the hard closure, but said he hopes it will be "short term."
When asked who would enforce the closure, Gov. Newsom said the state will work with local agencies, but did not provide a clear answer on how the closures will be enforced.
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.
Several local officials defended the decision to keep beaches open, with some insisting that beachgoers were maintaining social distancing.
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.