Newsom orders closure of Orange County beaches only

Gov.Gavin Newsom

Despite previously indicating he had plans to close all California beaches and state parks, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that, starting Friday, only Orange County beaches must close.

Last weekend, certain Orange County beaches were visibly crowded. This week, Newsom chastised Orange County beachgoers for not social distancing.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to provide the kind of physical distancing, social distancing that is required on the basis of our statewide guidance,” Newsom said during his press conference Thursday, when questioned about ordering the closure of Orange County beaches against the wishes of local officials. “Everybody who saw those images sat there and their eyes, you know, we’re all concerned about that.”

The state-imposed closure of Orange County beaches is temporary. Newsom said Orange County beaches can reopen if the situation improves. 

While the Orange County electorate has voted increasingly for Democrats in recent years, the county is traditionally Republican and its local officials have previously clashed with Newsom. Some critics have accused Newsom of factoring politics into his decision to target Orange County.

Elsewhere in the state, Newsom is allowing local officials to make decisions on the status of beaches and parks. During a press conference on Wednesday, San Luis Obispo County Administrator Wade Horton said SLO County plans to keep its beaches open. 

Statewide, several rural counties have requested that California relax shelter-at-home rules.

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