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Orange County city councils vote to challenge California governor's order to close beaches

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Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Dana Point city councils voted on Thursday to challenge California Governor Gavin Newsom's order to close all beaches in Orange County. The governor announced the crackdown over concerns that crowds last weekend were jeopardizing public health.

Huntington Beach City Council now plans to file an injunction challenging the constitutionality of the governor's order, CBS Los Angeles reports.

"Huntington Beach has never been one to just roll over and take these mandates from the governor," said Huntington Beach city attorney Michael Gates. "We're going to be fighting the order on a constitutional basis. We're fighting for the city. We're fighting for our decision makers locally who have done a good job managing this crisis. We're also fighting for the citizens of Huntington Beach."

California Governor Newsom Orders All Beaches In State To Close
A kite is flown as people gather at the beach on April 30, 2020, in Huntington Beach, California.  Getty Images

Newport Beach City Councilman Kevin Muldoon introduced a motion to join other Orange County cities in filing litigation. Dana Point City Council also voted to join the other cities and to seek a temporary restraining order to stop the state. 

Newsom said Thursday that the closures are "not an indictment of people that want to go the beach," but rather an expression of his sincere desire to keep residents safe. As of Thursday, California reported a total of 48,917 confirmed coronavirus cases. The state's death toll stood at 1,982.

The governor said modifications to California's stay-at-home order could be weeks, not months, away if it stays the course. "The only thing that will delay (reopening) is more weekends like last week," Newsom said.

People enjoy the beach amid the novel coronavirus pandemic in Huntington Beach, California, on April 25, 2020. APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta said she was disappointed by the governor's mandate. 

"We are surf city," she said. "We are a beautiful coastal town. Our beaches are so important to us."

Orange County Sheriff Barnes released a statement tonight implying he wouldn't arrest anyone or try to enforce the mandate.

"From what I saw, the vast majority of the people on the beaches last weekend acted responsibly," he wrote. "No one should fear being subject to a criminal violation for seeking out and exercising healthy activities."

Both Huntington Beach and Newport Beach said they plan to issue warnings to try to enforce the governor's orders. 

–Contributing: Audrey McNamara 

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