July 4 crowds pack San Clemente beach as other O.C. shores close

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Hundreds celebrated Fourth of July at the beach in San Clemente—one of the only stretches left open with no parking restrictions in Orange County Saturday.

To avoid crowding amid the coronavirus pandemic, beaches run by Orange County in the area were closed, so were shorelines in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Laguna Beach. State beaches in the county remained open, but their parking lots were closed.

Beachgoers told KTLA that San Clemente’s shoreline wasn’t as crowded as expected Saturday, especially with all the other beaches closed.

San Clemente residents also filled city streets for what appeared to be a small block party celebrating Independence Day in the area of S. Ola Visa and Victoria Avenue. Many waved American flags and mingled with others as they enjoyed snacks and drinks.

A Fourth of July block party held in San Clemente on July 4, 2020. (OC Hawk)
A Fourth of July block party held in San Clemente on July 4, 2020. (OC Hawk)

In a Wednesday statement, the city said it “recognizes the beach is a popular destination on the Fourth of July.” Officials urged residents to avoid large crowds, wear face coverings and stay 6 to 10 feet away from others.

Orange County had recorded 16,191 coronavirus cases and 363 deaths attributed to the respiratory illness as of Saturday. The city of San Clemente had 120  known infections, according to county data.

City officials still plan to go through with San Clemente’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display at 8:50 p.m., but it was moved from the pier to nearby Vista Hermosa Sports Park to avoid crowding.

Neighboring Los Angeles County has fully closed its beaches and banned firework displays in a bid to clamp down on large crowds that could spread the coronavirus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has urged Californians to stay home as the state grapples with a recent surge in infections and COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Public health officials up and down the state have described the Fourth of July weekend as a make-or-break moment for California in the pandemic and pleaded with residents to avoid gatherings.

Statewide, 252,526 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 6,334 have died of the respiratory illness it causes, according to a tally by the Los Angeles Times.

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