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California Governor Newsom warns beachgoers: "This virus doesn't take the weekends off"

Legal rights during coronavirus pandemic
Legal rights during coronavirus pandemic 11:31

California Governor Gavin Newsom has cautioned residents that, despite summer-like temperatures in the state, the coronavirus is not through and stay-at-home orders are still in place. He made the remarks after tens of thousands of people flocked to beaches in the state over the weekend.

"This virus doesn't take the weekends off," he said Monday at his daily press briefing. "This virus doesn't go home because it's a beautiful sunny day around our coasts."

Newsom began his briefing by thanking Californians for the state's success at slowing the rate of infection, then chastising those who have disobeyed stay-at-home orders amid the warm weather.

"I just want to begin by extending gratitude to 40 million Californians that over the course of the last number of weeks have not only bent the curve but stabilized it. We have made real progress in this state over the course of the last number of weeks," Newsom said. "And that's why I want to just confront the topic that is top of mind: Those are the images we saw over the weekend, the images down in Orange County and Ventura County on our beaches."

CBS Los Angeles reported that lifeguards in Huntington and Newport Beach, both in Orange County, said more than 50,000 people arrived on their beaches Friday, and more were expected on Saturday when temperatures surpassed 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

"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," Newsom said Monday. He said the state is "just a few weeks away — not months away — from making measurable and meaningful changes" to its stay-at-home order issued back in March.

"That is a very optimistic point to emphasize. However, that's driven by data, it's driven by behavior, and as we change our behavior, we can impact the science, the health, and the data," he said. 

Orange County Beaches In Southern California Remain Open During Coronavirus Lockdown
People are seen gathering on the beach north of Newport Beach Pier on April 25, 2020, in Newport Beach, California.  Getty

Newsom stressed that until a vaccine is distributed, the virus is still a threat. "Until then, we have to manage it, we have to manage risks, we have to manage and augment our behavior," he said. That's why I cannot impress upon you more — to those California's watching — that we can't see the images like we saw, particularly on Saturday in Newport Beach and elsewhere." 

Newport Beach city officials are holding a special meeting Tuesday to consider shutting down its beaches for the next three weekends, CBS Los Angeles reports. A Change.org petition demanding the Orange County Board of Supervisors close down its beaches had more than 3,000 signatures as of Tuesday. 

Newsom acknowledged the local efforts, but noted the state government will also make use of "more aggressive enforcement of the stay-at-home order... that we expect to be followed all across the state of California."

Beaches outside of Orange County largely abided by the state's orders, according to the governor. "The overwhelming majority of our coastline was appropriately advanced," he said. "Unfortunately there were those exceptions... and we have to confront that."

CBS Los Angeles reports that lifeguards across Orange County vigilantly reminded beachgoers to maintain six feet of distance, but some citations were issued to people who refused to move. Police in Huntington Beach, also in Orange County, tweeted Sunday that "despite what's being reported, the majority of our beach goers are complying to social distancing."

Meanwhile, in Northern California, six Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley have extended their stay-at-home order through May. CBS San Francisco reports that Bay Area law enforcement agencies are emphasizing voluntary compliance to social distancing guidelines, and have issued only a handful of citations each.

"We went from being the epicenter of the entire United States, to having one of the swiftest responses," said Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez. "I think the next phase is, how do we keep it together enough, so we can all go back to work, we can all go back to our families and we can all re-connect again."

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