- California’s Newport Beach and Huntington Beach were both packed over the weekend thanks to a heat wave that saw temperatures soaring into the 90s, the Los Angeles Times reported.
- Los Angeles County beaches are closed, but many Orange County beaches are open.
- Officials have said beachgoers are practicing social distancing, but residents said crowds were unseasonably large.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
This weekend, California got its turn in the hot seat.
Florida officials have received criticism for the state’s crowded beaches during the coronavirus pandemic, but photos of a packed Newport Beach in California from this past weekend have now been trending on the internet.
While some beaches remain closed in California, such as those in Los Angeles County, others have stayed open or have begun easing restrictions. That’s the case for many beaches in Orange County, including Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. With more people looking to get outside as the weather turns warmer, the differing policies may spell trouble for the open beaches.
In fact, crowding was already on clear display in some places as this weekend’s heat wave sent many Californians to their shores. While local officials have told various publications that beachgoers seem to be adhering to social distancing rules, residents have told a different story. Many say the crowds are huge for this time of year.
Here’s a look at the juxtaposition along southern California’s coastline, where some beaches are teeming with residents and others look like a ghost town.
On March 19, California issued a statewide stay-at-home order.
Source: Business Insider
This weekend, a heat wave with temperatures climbing into the 80s and 90s sent many southern Californians flocking to open beaches.
Source: NBC News
In Orange County, where many beaches remain open, Newport Beach saw an estimated 40,000 visitors Friday. Similar crowds were expected Saturday. Some residents compared it to Fourth of July crowds.
Source: Associated Press, The Hollywood Reporter
But not everyone agrees. “You would think it was summer,” surfer Tom Cozad told Orange County Register. “Everyone has been locked up and they need to get out, but the city should plan for this. People are pulling up to the beach, getting out of Ubers, dropping off friends.”
Source: The Orange County Register
Huntington Beach, just north of Newport Beach, was also packed over the weekend despite foggy conditions. However, the pier, beach parking lots, and some metered parking were closed.
Source: Los Angeles Times
These beaches are a sharp contrast to other Orange County cities, including Laguna Beach and Seal Beach, that have kept their beaches closed.
Source: Los Angeles Times
People flooded Ventura beaches over the weekend.
—Jordynn (@jordynnstom) April 24, 2020
While people aren’t allowed to linger, Ventura Police Sgt. Mike Anselmo told the LA Times he didn’t enforce the rules. “I’m not going to ask some 50-year-old parents to run around with kids all day,” he said.
However, he did mandate that umbrellas had to come down, hoping the lack of shade would encourage people to not stay.
Source: NBC Nightly News
Meanwhile, Los Angeles county has kept its beaches closed. LA officials also asked residents not to crowd coasts in neighboring counties.
Source: Los Angeles Times, Business Insider
“There is a direct correlation between what you do this weekend and how long this will take and how many lives we will lose,” LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday. “If you stay home this weekend, our case numbers will drop, and we will stop the spread of this virus.”
As of April 27, California has the fifth-highest number of coronavirus cases in the US at 43,691.
Source: NBC News
However, LA residents may not be staying put. Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said the beaches were inundated with people from LA and San Diego counties.
“When you take a look at the folks that are coming down, they’re not only not adhering to safer-at-home policies in their own communities — they’re not even staying in their own counties,” she said, as reported by the LA Times.
“We knew the beach would be crowded, but I didn’t know it would be at this level,” resident Karissa Collins told the Orange County Register of Huntington Beach.”We’re only one of the few cities open, so everyone is coming to our beach.”
On Tuesday, Newport Beach officials will have a meeting to address the weekend’s crowds. They’ll decide whether they should close the beach for the next three weekends.
“We want our beaches to be there for people to get their exercise and seek their fresh air enjoyment,” said Diane Dixon, Newport Beach councilwoman. “When people don’t respect the governor’s order it becomes something we need to manage in a different way.”
Source: Orange County Register