Mayor Will O’Neill pointed to data showing that every beach community in Los Angeles County—where the beaches have been closed for a month—had higher rates of infection than Orange County’s open beach communities.
“Without speaking to a single local official in Newport Beach, Governor Newsom has put politics over data, and substituted his will for our judgment from 428 miles away in Sacramento,” O’Neill wrote on Twitter. “Los Angeles County closed their beaches over a month ago and data now shows that every single Los Angeles County beach community has a higher per capita COVID infection rate than Orange County’s open beach communities.”
“Any restriction that invokes health and safety to shut down freedom of movement needs to be grounded in data to show that such activities are direct threats to health and safety. That showing was not made today. OC’s forty-two miles of beaches can and should be safely opened,” O’Neill added.
Newsom ordered all beaches in Orange County to be closed on April 30, explaining that “we’re guided by health.”
“We’re guided by your health and the health of others,” Newsom said.
Newport Beach City Council earlier this week voted to reject an ordinance that would have closed beaches for the next three weekends.
There were over 1,000 emails sent to city officials expressing views on the matter before the vote, including 664 asking for beaches to stay open and 391 wanting them closed.
The council asked city workers to ramp up enforcement of social distancing measures, which include people staying six feet from individuals they don’t live with. More police officers and lifeguards will be on the beaches in the coming days, the city said in a press release.
“The vast majority of the beach visitors this weekend were practicing social distancing, but many were not,” the city said in its statement.
According to statistics shared during the council meeting, some 90,000 people went to beaches over the past weekend.
San Clemente, where some beaches are also open, delayed taking action on a similar proposal. The city announced beaches were reopening on April 25.
Crowds gathered on the beaches on April 25 and 26 as temperatures soared and many beaches nearby remained closed, including Los Angeles County beaches and most in San Diego County.
Newsom, a Democrat, reacted to photographs showing throngs enjoying the sand, calling them “an example of what not to see” and “what not to do” if state residents want to continue making progress against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“The reality is we are just a few weeks away, not months away, from making measurable and meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order,” the governor said, referring to his harsh mandate that has largely kept people confined in their homes since mid-March.
“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 added.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.