NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) – City of Newport Beach officials are disputing allegations that their beaches were overcrowded this past weekend amid news that the governor plans to close all beaches beginning Friday amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“The overwhelming majority of Newport Beach residents and visitors were families or practicing social distancing,” the Newport Beach police and fire departments said in a joint statement Thursday morning.
Police officers and lifeguards who patrolled the seven-mile stretch of beaches determined that while “some clusters of people” were not following physical distancing guidelines, the vast majority were, the agencies said.
Furthermore, to try and bolster their point, they released aerial photos from a police helicopter that were taken at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, “the peak day of attendance.”
The Newport Beach City Council voted Tuesday against a proposal to close its beaches for the next three weekends.
However, that vote may not matter. According to a memo obtained by CBS News, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to announce the closure of all beaches and state parks effective Friday.
The order comes after Newsom, earlier this week, scolded the thousands of people who descended on beaches in Orange and Ventura counties during the weekend heat wave.
“The images down in Orange County and Ventura County, on our beaches, those images are an example of what not to see,” Newsom said Monday.
“This virus doesn’t take the weekends off,” he added. “This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful, sunny day.”
While beaches in L.A. County – from Malibu to the South Bay – were closed and empty over the weekend, the coastline of the cities of Port Hueneme, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach were quite the opposite, drawing thousands of visitors.
Huntington Beach police Sunday echoed Newport Beach police, tweeting that “the majority of our beach goers are complying to social distancing.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Laguna Beach City Council Tuesday voted to reopen its beaches on weekday mornings only, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., beginning May 4.