The city council of Newport Beach, California, decided Tuesday to keep its beaches open — despite a rebuke from Governor Gavin Newsom that earned national media attention.
Newsom had scolded beachgoers in Orange County and Ventura County at the start of his conference call on the state’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic Monday, which featured reporters from both local and national media outlets.
Calling the behavior of beachgoers an example of “what not to do,” Newsom singled out Newport Beach in particular, where people flocked to the coast in the midst of high, summer like temperatures.
“We can’t see the images like we saw, particularly on Saturday, in Newport Beach and elsewhere,” the governor said.
But on Tuesday, the council decided to maintain its current policy — with additional law enforcement to ensure social distancing.
A news release from the city read:
The City Council has advised staff to maintain accessibility to the Newport Beach coastline for exercise and recreation, with a greater police and lifeguard presence to more actively enforce social distancing directives. The Council action followed a busy Friday and Saturday in Newport Beach as thousands of visitors sought to escape the Southern California heatwave. The vast majority of the beach visitors this weekend were practicing social distancing, but many were not.
The Council majority expressed a strong desire to keep most public beaches, parks and open spaces accessible for the mental health and physical wellbeing of residents. Council members supported having City staff manage the beaches at a level similar to the crowded 4th of July weekend, and issue citations for those in violation of the social distancing order.
While most of the beachgoers last weekend were practicing responsible social distancing, the volume of visitors generated significant neighborhood impacts and ran counter to guidance from California State Parks to “stay close to home when you get outdoors. This is not the time for a road trip to a destination park or beach.”
The City will continue to communicate the critical importance of responsible social distancing and adherence to the Governor’s “stay at home” order during the upcoming weekends.
Orange County and Ventura County have kept their beaches open despite a statewide stay-at-home order. Los Angeles County and other counties have kept their beaches closed.
San Diego County opened is beaches for exercise and fishing on Monday, though it left discretion up to local communities.
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.