More than 500 protesters crowded Huntington Beach on Friday in dispute of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order for the closure of all public beaches in Orange County after last weekend’s beach crowds “raised alarm bells” for state officials concerned about the spread of the coronavirus.
Holding signs with phrases like, “Freedom: we the people” and “All jobs are essential,” according to the Los Angeles Times, the protesters gathered onto the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street, ignored physical distancing guidelines and, for the most part, did not wear face coverings. Police officers on horseback were also present to monitor the crowds and help traffic move along.
The city itself has also made it clear it will be fighting back against the governor’s order. During an emergency meeting late on Thursday, the Huntington Beach City Council voted to seek an injunction against Newsom’s order.
During a Thursday press conference, Newsom said he believed the closures would be a “short-term adjustment” but were needed to help avoid putting more people at risk for infection.
“People that are congregating there that weren’t practicing physical distancing, that may go back to their community outside of Orange County and may not even know that they contracted the disease,” Newsom said. “Now, they put other people at risk, put our hospital system at risk.”
As of Friday, there have been a total of 2,537 confirmed coronavirus cases and 50 deaths in Orange County, according to county health officials.