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Newsom Closes All OC Beaches Following Large Weekend Crowds

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – After seeing large crowds this past weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he has ordered the temporary closure of all Orange County beaches beginning Friday.

Huntington Beach
A boy digs the sand as people enjoy the beach amid the novel coronavirus pandemic in Huntington Beach, California on April 25, 2020. - Orange County is the only county in the area where beaches remain open, lifeguards in Huntington Beach expect tens of thousands of people to flock the beach this weekend due to the heat wave. Lifeguards and law enforcement are patrolling the beach to make sure people are keeping their distance. (Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP) (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

The governor announced a "hard closure" of all state and local beaches in Orange County.

"We're gonna do a hard close in that part of the state, just in the O.C. area," Newsom said.

Newsom called the focused closure a "temporary pause." CBS News Wednesday had obtained a memo which seemed to indicate that Newsom may shut down all beaches statewide. However, that was not the case.

"Specific issues on some of those (Orange County) beaches have raised alarm bells," Newsom said. "People that are congregating there that weren't practicing physical distancing that may go back to their community outside of O.C. and may not even though that they contracted the disease."

Thursday's order comes after Newsom, earlier this week, scolded the thousands of people who descended on Port Hueneme, Newport and Huntington beaches in Orange and Ventura counties during the weekend heat wave. The governor said that the rest of the state, including Los Angeles County, adhered to the guidelines and stayed away from the beaches.

In a letter sent to Orange County Supervisors the Governor's Office of Emergency Services wrote in part:

"Last weekend, state and local beaches in Orange County experienced exceptionally heavy visitation that generated a high concentration of beach visitors in close physical proximity. State public health leadership reviewed conditions on these beaches and determined that this beach visitation created unsafe conditions. These conditions threaten the health of both beach visitors and community members who did not visit the beach but are threatened by worsening spread of the virus, including first responders and health care providers."

"The images down in Orange County and Ventura County, on our beaches, those images are an example of what not to see," Newsom said Monday.

RELATED: Newport Beach Officials Release Photos Disputing That Their Beaches Were Overcrowded

"This virus doesn't take the weekends off," he added. "This virus doesn't go home because it's a beautiful, sunny day."

However, earlier Thursday, city of Newport Beach officials pushed back, disputing allegations that their beaches were overcrowded, arguing that most visitors followed social distancing guidelines. Huntington Beach police also alleged that people were physically distancing.

"The overwhelming majority of Newport Beach residents and visitors were families or practicing social distancing," the Newport Beach police and fire departments said in a joint statement Thursday morning.

Thursday afternoon, Newport Beach City Council held an emergency meeting on the governor's orders.

According to the City Attorney, there is no foreseeable end date for the closures.

The Newport Beach City Council voted Tuesday against a proposal to close its beaches for the next three weekends.


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