California Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized beachgoers Monday in Orange County and Ventura County, who had taken to the coast in large numbers over the weekend, saying that their behavior was an example of “what not to do.”
Newsom was speaking during a press briefing on the state’s progression fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Local and national media carried photographs of people enjoying the sun in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and other locations. Though many people wore masks and kept separate from one another, some photographs provoked criticism and concern.
California enjoyed summerlike temperatures late last week and through the weekend for the first time this year, and many flocked to beaches where they were open.
Some were also apparently drawn to the beaches at night to watch rare bioluminescent waves — the result of phytoplankton that appear during red tides.
Orange County and Ventura County have not closed their beaches; Los Angeles County beaches are closed, and San Diego County beaches are only open in select areas — for exercise, not sunbathing.
“We can’t see the images like we saw, particularly on Saturday, in Newport Beach and elsewhere,” Newsom said. He praised the 40 million people of the state in general, and noted that most coastal regions had kept the beaches clear.
“Unfortunately, there were these exceptions,” he said. “We’ve got to confront that.”
Newsom said that while he respected the prerogatives of local governments — “I deeply respect localism. I deeply respect local decision making” — the failure to uphold “appropriate social distancing” could prolong the pandemic.
The governor added that he was hoping to lift some stay-at-home orders soon and reopen the state’s economy. “The only thing that can stop that is more images like we saw over this weekend,” Newsom warned.
He latter added that he did not want to see local law enforcement have to issue citations to people who simply needed recreation, but worried about bad behavior “setting back the cause of reopening the economy as quickly as we’d like to.”
Newsom added that the state had begun seeing a decline in the number of daily deaths from coronavirus, dropping from over 100 just several days ago to 45 in the most recent report.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.