Newsom Approves Reopening of 2 Orange County Beaches for ‘Active Recreation’

May 5, 2020 Updated: May 5, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration on May 4 approved the reopening of beaches in two cities in Orange County, after local officials submitted plans to adhere to social distancing measures in an effort to prevent the spread of the CCP virus.

Beaches in Laguna Beach and San Clemente will be reopened to the public after receiving approval from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, state officials confirmed.

The plans for reopening beaches in both cities will adhere to Newsom’s stay-at-home order, the California Natural Resources Agency said in a statement.

The approval comes after Newsom on April 30 issued an order to close all beaches in Orange County after tens of thousands of people flocked to some beaches the previous weekend during a heat wave, raising concerns that physical distancing rules weren’t being followed.

The beachgoers in Orange and Ventura counties, Newsom said last week, were an example of “what not to do” if California wants to continue its progress fighting the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

Laguna Beach will now reopen weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and will only allow active recreation—which means jogging, surfing, and swimming are fine, but lying in the sun and bringing a cooler isn’t OK, according to a copy of the city’s plan.

Those who violate the closure orders, and visit the beach on weekends or past 10 a.m., can be cited with a misdemeanor, fined up to $1,000, or arrested, Fox LA reported, citing Laguna Beach officials.

San Clemente has also reopened its beaches for active recreation only, such as walking or surfing, the city said in a statement, noting that while its pier was to reopen May 5, fishing won’t yet be allowed. Beaches in the city will be open seven days a week.

Newsom thanked law enforcement and local officials for constructing “an outstanding plan” to safely reopen beaches in both cities.

“We worked with them on guidelines and procedures to basically enforce a reopening that is phased and appropriate to local needs, local conditions,” Newsom said. “And so with deference to their plans and proposals, which are unique and distinctive in both cases, we signed off on those and we immediately lifted [restrictions].”

Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said in a statement that the city appreciates Newsom’s “willingness to work with us to provide a responsible, gradual approach to reopening all beaches” for active recreation.

“This will allow people the opportunity to walk, jog, swim, and surf, and get some fresh air and exercise on a limited basis, but not congregate or gather in large groups,” Whalen said.

Orange County Executive Officer Frank Kim said the state is in discussion with other cities to devise plans to reopen more beaches.

California has reported more than 54,000 cases of the CCP virus, with at least 2,254 deaths, according to government data.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.