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Two California cities voted Thursday night to take legal action against Gov. Gavin Newsom's beach-closure order, arguing it should be up to local leaders and not the Democratic governor to decide when it's safe to return.
Huntington Beach and Dana Point city councils voted in emergency sessions to take legal steps against the governor, who ordered all beaches and state parks in Orange County temporarily closed after seeing crowds on the sandy beaches not practicing social distancing.
Dana Point Councilman Joseph Muller, who voted in favor of seeking a temporary restraining order blocking the beach shutdown mandate, also criticized Newsom's administration for providing inconsistent information on a conference call with city council members and elected officials.
Last weekend, as Los Angeles County beaches were closed over coronavirus concerns, thousands flocked to Orange County beaches.
"Specific issues on some of those beaches have raised alarm bells," Newsom said, criticizing beachgoers for possibly spreading the virus when they return to their communities outside of Orange County.
He added, "(They) may not even know that they contracted the disease and now they put other people at risk, put our hospital system at risk."
Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta said her city has invested considerable effort and expense to make sure people have safe access to the beach for their mental health and exercise.
"Our experience here locally has been that most people are being responsible and complying with social distancing, and given that Orange County has among the lowest per capita COVID-19 death rates in California, the state's action today seems to prioritize politics over data," Semeta said in a written statement.
As of Friday, 3.2 million people have been infected by coronavirus around the world. In the United States, more than 1 million people have coronavirus.