California Governor Closes Orange County Beaches After Residents Ignore Social Distancing Orders

80,000 Californians congregated in Newport Beach last weekend, despite strict social distancing orders

Heat Waves in Southern California
Thousands of beach-goers in Huntington Beach, Calif., on April 25. Photo: Allen J. Schaben (Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Orange County, California's beaches will be closed starting Friday, after residents swarmed the shoreline last weekend, violating social distancing rules amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The state's governor Gavin Newsom announced the decision Thursday, overruling local officials.

Amid a heat wave last weekend, with Los Angeles County beaches closed, thousands flocked to neighboring Ventura and Orange Counties to get on the sand. 80,000 beachgoers visited in the O.C. city of Newport Beach alone, according to the Associated Press.

Photos showed beachgoers close together on the sand and in the water on Friday, as temperatures climbed into the 90s in many areas.

Regarding the gradual reopening of the state, Newsom said on Thursday, “The only thing that will delay it is more weekends like last weekend. Let’s not see that happen.”

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Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, spoke out against the behavior. “We don’t need you to go out and get infected in another county and then bring yourself, infected, back here to L.A. County,” she told FOX 11.

Newsom also harshly criticized the beachgoers in a daily press conference 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," he said.

"The only thing that will set us back is people stopping to practice physical distancing and appropriate social distancing," Newsom added. "That’s the only thing that’s going to slow down our ability to reopen this economy."

Gavin Newsom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Shutterstock

As of Thursday morning, California has at least 48,904 confirmed cases of coronavirus, while at least 1,961 people have died from coronavirus-related illnesses, according to the New York Times.

Despite the United States officially surpassing 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, states like Georgia have begun easing up on its shelter-in-place restrictions in an attempt to kick start the economy.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp allowed hair and nail salons, barbershops, massage businesses and gyms to reopen, despite urging from President Donald Trump not to do so.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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