We all remember those images of Florida beaches that were packed with people even as the state was starting to issue stay-at-home orders last month.
Last night Florida reported that the state has 4,246 active cases of coronavirus.
There will be many more reported tonight.
This is a photo of New Smyrna Beach this afternoon.
Why are there people there?
Because @GovRonDeSantis still won’t shut down the state.
Any questions? pic.twitter.com/4Ncdni9bMP
— Andrew Weinstein (@Weinsteinlaw) March 29, 2020
Something similar happened in California over the weekend and it has created a battle between local government and the governor. Specifically, it happened in Orange County not far from my house. We had a very warm weekend and this is what Newport Beach looked like.
— Mindy Schauer (@themindyschauer) April 26, 2020
Photos like that ricocheted around the internet and caused some people to worry this would cause the virus to spread.
— Peter Miller (@peter_miller) April 26, 2020
In response to those images Gov. Newsom to make a lengthy statement Monday criticizing beach goers, specifically those in Orange County and Ventura County. The video of his statement is below but he said in part, “I want to just confront the topic that is top of mind and those are the images we saw over the weekend, the images down in Orange County and Ventura County on our beaches,” he said. He continued, “Those images are an example of what not to see, people, what not to do if we’re going to make the meaningful progress that we’ve made in the last few weeks extend into the next number of weeks.” He added, “This virus doesn’t take the weekends off.”
Despite being called out by the governor, Newport Beach officials voted the following day to keep the beaches open. That was apparently the last straw for Gov. Newsom who made plans to announce Thursday that all beaches and state parks will be shut down as of Friday:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will order all beaches and state parks closed starting Friday after people thronged the seashore last weekend despite his social distancing order that aims to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
But that’s far from the end of this. Yesterday an NPR/Marist poll showed that a slight majority of Republicans now think it’s time for people to get back to work even as a majority of Democrats say no. And this is where the political geography of California comes into play. Gov. Newsom is a progressive who was formerly the Mayor of San Francisco. Orange County, which is in southern California, isn’t as conservative as it once was but there are still a lot of Republicans here who are thinking it’s time to start opening things up rather than shut them down. That’s true of people on the street who say they want the beaches open:
“It’s time to move on,” Huntington Beach resident Jim Puro, 59, said Thursday. “We need to start opening up and I can’t think of a better way than to be out in the sun.”
The beaches are expansive, he argued. “There is more than enough space for people to socially distance themselves,” he said.
It’s also true of some elected officials who pushed back on the planned shut down by the governor. The Mayor of Newport Beach put out this statement, complete with photos from a police helicopter, disputing the claim that beaches were overcrowded last weekend. It reads in part, “We understand photos captured some individuals who were not social distancing. However, the photos included below, taken from out police helicopter on the peak day of attendance…reflect what we saw along much of the City’s seven miles of ocean beaches this past weekend.”
Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis and Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles have issued a statement commenting on what they and their public safety personnel saw this past weekend in Newport Beach. Pictures taken by our Police Chief from the police helicopter are included. pic.twitter.com/HyF4lof2H9
— Mayor Will O'Neill (@ONeill4Newport) April 30, 2020
Here’s a larger view of those photos:
An Orange County supervisor named Don Wagner put out his own statement saying that while the governor had the authority to close the beaches it was not a good idea. “I fear that this overreaction from the state will undermine that cooperative attitude and our collective efforts to fight the disease,” he wrote. Notice the person below who sent her own beach photo in response.
Another excessive overreach @GavinNewsom , when will it end!! Here was my view from Newport beach on friday at noon…20+ feet away from anyone …leave it to the media to only capture the shots that fit their narrative. pic.twitter.com/7iwy4UZ3Ze
— Nicole (@ndonoso11) April 30, 2020
At least one Sheriff in the state, in northern Humboldt county, has said he will not enforce the governor’s order:
“As Sheriff, I am the protector of constitutional rights in Humboldt County, and if an order is issued that I believe violates our constitutional rights, I will not enforce it,” said Sheriff William Honsal.
So here’s the video of Gov. Newsom scolding people Monday. It appears he is going to shut down the beaches but I wonder if law enforcement in Orange County will enforce that order.
Update: Newsom decided to close just Orange County beaches.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he plans to close state and local beaches in Orange County, calling the images of huge crowds that occupied the beaches over the weekend “disturbing.”
“Orange County has been on our list of health concern and they’ve done a wonderful job down there, I just think we can tighten that up a little bit. So we’re going to have a temporary pause down there,” Newsom said at a press conference on Thursday…
Previous reports before Newsom’s order indicated he planned to close all of the state’s beaches, which drew widespread criticism from some state officials. When asked what changed his mind on closing all state beaches, Newsom said that they “never did and this is exactly the conversations we were having.”
Newsom is claiming that he never planned to close all beaches and parks as was widely reported earlier by dozens of media outlets. That story was based on the following memo sent out by the California Police Chiefs Association which plainly said the order would apply to all beaches and parks:
BREAKING: A source has provided me with this bulletin that will be sent out to all California police chiefs notifying them that tomorrow, Governor Newsom will announce the closure of ALL beaches and state parks effective May 1st in response to recent beach crowds in OC . @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/RG53HhmySf
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) April 30, 2020
During his announcement Newsom said, “That was their memo. And that memo never got to me.” So did the Police Chiefs Association get this wrong? Not according to the Chief of Staff for the Mayor of San Diego:
For the record, last night Mayor Faulconer’s administration was notified by Governor Newsom’s administration that he would be announcing the closure of ALL CA beaches. Minutes before today’s press announcement Mayor’s office was notified this would only apply to Orange County.
— Aimee Faucett (@aimeefaucett) April 30, 2020
So Newsom did change his mind and then was “less than honest” about it:
Oh. So according to the San Diego mayor’s chief of staff, Governor Newsom was less than honest with us on TV a short time ago. https://t.co/BxHIP1srTM
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) April 30, 2020
In keeping with the idea that Newsom changed his mind, the Mayor of San Diego claimed his push back (“the Governor heard us”) had helped change things and keep San Diego beaches open:
Great news: the Governor heard us. San Diego beaches WILL STAY OPEN under our plan approved by lifeguards and health officials. In a time of great crisis we don't need knee-jerk policies. We need to keep a steady hand. It’s the only way to keep the public’s trust. Keep it up, SD!
— Kevin Faulconer (@Kevin_Faulconer) April 30, 2020
Will anyone else come forward on this or will they just fall in line? The question now, even more than before is whether local authorities in Orange County will enforce this.
Update: Newsom lied. The Mayor of San Diego just confirmed it.
BREAKING: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer tells me that his office got a call from Governor Newsom's staff last night informing them that ALL California beaches would be closed, then minutes before gov's press conf today, they called again saying it'll be just OC beaches. @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/oIpCXeZK7t
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) April 30, 2020