With O.C. beaches already reopened, judge again denies Huntington Beach’s attempt to block Newsom’s closure order

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People gather at the beach amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 15, 2020 in Huntington Beach, California. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

People gather at the beach amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 15, 2020 in Huntington Beach, California. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

A judge on Friday denied a preliminary injunction requested by the city of Huntington Beach to block Gov. Gavin Newsom’s beach closure order, aimed at curbing spread of COVID-19.

Orange County Superior Judge Nathan Scott blocked the request Friday, as beaches in the county, including Hunting Beach, Dana Point, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Seal Beach and Newport Beach, have already reopened.

Newsom issued the order closing Orange County beaches on April 30, citing the previous weekend’s crowded shores, which appeared to violate the state’s social distancing guidelines. But O.C. cities, including Huntington Beach, immediately submitted safety plans to the state and were able to reopen just days later for active recreation.

People may now walk, jog, surf and swim at the beaches but cannot picnic, sunbathe or lay out on the sand.

Even though the shores reopened, Huntington Beach pushed forward with the case in an effort to regain local control. City Attorney Michael Gates said Monday that the issue at the center of the city’s lawsuit is one of executive overreach.

“It’s governor control, governor control, governor control,” he said. “That’s simply not supposed to happen in our constitutional government. The governor can’t step on the toes of our local officials.”

Hours after Newsom ordered the beach closures, the Huntington Beach City Council voted to “take any legal action to challenge the governor’s executive order,” Gates said. The next day, Judge Scott denied the city’s first attempt to block the governor’s beach order.

Thousands took to the streets of the city to protest Newsom’s stay-at-home order and the closure of county beaches.

Former Newport Beach mayor and current councilman Kevin Muldoon also filed a lawsuit against Gov. Newsom and other state leaders on May 4, over the constitutionality of state-mandated beach closures.

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Orange County continue to surge with 158 new cases reported Friday, bringing the countywide total to 4,125.

The number of positive cases in the county increased over the last two weeks, as did people becoming seriously ill and hospitalized, O.C. Health Care Agency’s director Dr. Clayton Chau said Thursday during a news briefing. 

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