Citing images of beachgoers crowding the sand at Newport Beach last weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that he would close the beaches in Orange County.
“We’re guided by health,” the governor said while calling the closing a “temporary pause” and emphasizing the need to “meet the conditions as they change.”
Those words were not well-received by Orange County officials, including Sheriff Don Barnes.
“The photographs I saw, quite honestly, were a stark contrast to what the governor’s acting on,” Barnes said, adding that he is “not taking enforcement action on this order.”
“My intent…is to seek voluntary compliance,” Barnes said. “I have no desire to enforce…through arrest.”
It had been reported that Newsom would close all the state’s beaches from the Mexico border to the northern boundary with Oregon. Those reports were based on a police memo obtained by media. Asked about the memo, Newsom said with a smile, “That was their memo, but that memo never got to me.”
Newsom signaled concern about Newport Beach and some beaches in Ventura County on Monday.
“We can’t see images like we saw, particularly on Saturday, in Newport Beach and elsewhere,” Newsom said Monday. “This virus doesn’t take the weekends off. This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful sunny day around our coasts.”
On Tuesday, despite Newsom’s admonition, the Newport’ Beach City Council voted to keep its beaches open, with additional enforcement of physical distancing.
Later, a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors called news of Newsom’s expected Friday announcement an “overreaction.”
This as, according to CNN, at least 31 states have plans to begin loosening restrictions in the next few days. Ironically, despite the beach order, California is among them.
On Tuesday Newsom revealed a “California Resilience Roadmap,” which plots out a four-stage reopening. According to the Roadmap, the state is currently at stage one.
The next stage will be “gradually reopening low-risk workplaces,” such as retail, manufacturing, offices and more public spaces. These first reopenings could happen within weeks. Movie theaters and sporting events (without crowds) would open in stage 3.
Newsom announced that officials are contemplating a July or August start for the fall school term. “We have made no decisions,” the governor said at his daily briefing, but noted officials “recognize there’s been a learning loss.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.