Demonstrators were protesting the state’s stay-at-home order in Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Laguna Beach Saturday, after state-mandated beach closures went into effect across the county Friday.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the temporary closure of all Orange County beaches Thursday, after thousands of people flocked to the shores last weekend during a heat wave, disregarding stay-at-home orders meant to curb spread of COVID-19.
Activities including sunbathing, walking, running and watersports were also prohibited.
Sky5 footage showed much less crowding at O.C. beaches Saturday, but some people were still in the water, the sand and on bike paths. Others took to the streets to protest against the governor’s orders.
Official signs that informed people of beach, pier and bike path closures could be seen throughout county beaches, with print stating that violators would be subject to enforcement. People with questions were urged to call the O.C. hotline at 833-426-6411.
After more than 2,500 people gathered in Huntington Beach to protest against stay-at-home orders and business closures Friday, a crowd of about 50 gathered again Saturday.
“The orders of Newsom are not constitutional, and they are not effective in any way,” protestor Kyle Richardson, 35, told the Los Angeles Times.
Richardson was holding a sign that read “Obey the Fuhrer,”and portrayed Gov. Newsom in a Nazi uniform beneath a red flag and a swastika.
Others held signs that said, “Take off your masks,” “Expose the deep state,” and “Give me liberty or give me death.”
The demonstrations came after the Huntington Beach City Council voted 5-2 Thursday to pursue legal action against the state’s order to close beaches. Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta called the governor’s order an “unconstitutional overreach.”
Although a judge rejected a request from the city Friday seeking a temporary restraining order to keep beaches open, Dana Point and Newport Beach city officials voted to join in taking legal action against the state.
In the meantime, they all agreed to close their beaches off to public access, in accordance to the governor’s order.
As signs went up Friday informing people of the beach closures, Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy said that they would first seek voluntary compliance from anyone who still treads to the shores.
“Ultimately if we don’t get that voluntary compliance, enforcement will take place and that can come in several different ways and its really whoever is necessary depending on the situation,” he said.
Protestors also took to Laguna Beach and Seal Beach Saturday, drawing small crowds. Aerial footage showed that while a few people were wearing masks, a majority were not. They were not practicing social distancing rules either.
About a dozen people, including children, gathered in Seal Beach carrying signs and American flags to protest the governor’s order, Sky5 footage showed. More people were gathered around the protestors, watching them and taking photos.
A larger crowd of demonstrators was gathered in Laguna Beach, with some carrying American flags, along with posters that had sayings such as “Recall Governor Newsom.”
Meanwhile, L.A. County beaches remained closed as Ventura County shores were open. Although people gathered in Ventura County last week too, the governor did not mandate closures there because of good safety practices and community leadership, according to county officials.
As of Saturday, Orange County had 2,636 reported cases of COVID-19 and 52 deaths, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. Santa Ana and Anaheim had the highest number of cases in the county, with 458 and 382 respectively.