Apu Gomes / AFP via Getty Images
It was only a matter of time until something had to give, and that something was a combination of cabin fever and beautiful weather that brought thousands of revelers to California’s Newport Beach on Friday.
As if thumbing their noses at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s social-distancing protocol, around 40,000 beachgoers flocked to the surf and sand in such large numbers that city officials are now considering closing the beach on weekends, according to the The Orange County Register.
In an effort to thwart the spread of the coronavirus, the Democratic governor’s March 19 executive order instructed residents to leave home only when necessary, a requirement that the Los Angles Times reported will likely persist. While many beaches remained open during the order, Newsom was worried about the influx of visitors and issued a warning on Friday.
“It’s going to be nice outside this weekend. You might be feeling cooped up. Ready for life to go back to ‘normal,’” he wrote on Twitter. “But can’t stress this enough: CA can only keep flattening the curve if we stay home and practice physical distancing.”
“You have the power to literally save lives,” he added.
It’s going to be nice outside this weekend. You might be feeling cooped up. Ready for life to go back to “normal.”
But can’t stress this enough:
CA can only keep flattening the curve if we stay home and practice physical distancing.
You have the power to literally save lives.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 24, 2020
Undeterred, visitors poured onto Orange County’s Huntington Beach on Saturday, KABC-TV reported.
“You can see that there are a lot of groups gathering, not so much spacing or social distancing within those groups, but the groups are staying away from each other,” KABC’s Leanne Suter said of the crowds, and pointed out that not many were wearing masks.
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“I think that people want to get out. I think they’ve been cooped up, I think they’re going stir crazy” Huntington Beach resident Frank Feerini said. “It’s a beautiful day, how can you keep anybody in?”
Officials in Huntington Beach disagreed that the crowds were not safely enjoying the shore. “Despite what’s being reported, the majority of our beach goers are complying to social distancing,” a message from the beach’s Twitter account read.
“Please see our link below for more information about how we’re taking care of our beaches,” the post read. An accompanying news release from the city featured photos of groups safely spread far apart on the beaches.
Despite what’s being reported, the majority of our beach goers are complying to social distancing. Please see our link below for more information about how we’re taking care of our beaches. #huntingtonbeach #onehb #hbreadyhttps://t.co/YsklOUeNzF
— Huntington Beach (@HBCityBeach) April 26, 2020
Apparently, folks have had enough and are starting to leave home to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine while doing their best to maintain a safe distance. The perceived lower risk of transmission outdoors coupled with basic human desires for recreation and human interaction meant it was only a matter of time before Californians flouted the governor’s restrictions.
The longer the virtual lockdowns in places like California continue, the more people will become frustrated as government officials jeopardize their freedoms and fortunes. Eventually, keeping people locked in their homes, especially as the sun-soaked beaches beckon on the horizon, will become more difficult.
Coronavirus is still a major threat to the people of California, but while citizens have mostly complied with stay-at-home orders, they are tired of being trapped at home without jobs and the simple pleasures of the great outdoors.
Social distancing and prudence are still the order of the day, but enjoying the sand and surf in Southern California during a spring heat wave may prove too tempting for home-bound residents to pass up, regardless of what Gov. Gavin Newsom has to say about it.
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