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After crowds flocked to the shoreline over the weekend, Newport Beach is expected to hold a city council meeting Tuesday afternoon to decide whether its beaches should once again be shut down for the next three weekends to limit the impact of the coronavirus.
Despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide stay-at-home order, Newport Beach is among several other cities in Orange County that have begun easing local lockdown restrictions, including opening their beaches in a limited capacity.
Newsom, a Democrat, called out Newport Beach during his daily COVID-19 briefing Monday, condemning beachgoers for crowding together, failing to space apart on their beach towels, and not wearing masks while sunbathing.
“Those images are an example of what not to see, what not to do if we’re going to make the meaningful progress that we’ve made in the last few weeks extend into the next number of weeks,” Newsom said, according to the Orange County Register. “The reality is we are just a few weeks away, not months away, from making measurable and meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order.”
“As we change our behavior, we can impact the science, the health and the data. This virus doesn't take the weekends off. This virus doesn't go home because it's a beautiful sunny day around our coasts."
City officials estimated about 40,000 people crowded Newport Beach both Friday and Saturday, leaving little available space to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidance to keep at least six feet apart.
Hit with a heat wave, Southern Californians have visited the few still open stretches of the coast also in Huntington Beach, Doheny State Beach and San Clemente. Beaches in Los Angeles and San Diego counties and Laguna Beach, meanwhile, have closed off their shorelines to deter swimmers, surfers and sunbathers. Parks and playgrounds there have also remained closed.
Should the city of Newport Beach choose to close its beaches for the next three weekends, it could cause a domino effect, with Huntington Beach, as well other beaches in Orange County, becoming magnets for larger crowds.
"If Newport Beach closes all of its beaches and that crowd decides to come here, we'll have to make some serious decisions to make sure that doesn't happen," Huntington Beach Fire Battalion Chief Eric McCoy told Fox 11 Los Angeles.
Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett proposed following suit to measures in San Diego, where people are allowed to walk, run and ride their bikes on the beach, as long as they keep moving and don’t stay in one place to sunbathe, Fox 11 reported.
California, as of Tuesday, recorded at least 45,200 confirmed coronavirus cases, with at least 1,788 deaths, according to statistics gathered by Johns Hopkins University.