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Defying Order, California Official Headed to Beach

Sonoma County's emergency manager Chris Godley took his family along, too
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2020 8:24 AM CDT

(Newser) – People have routinely been making headlines for violating shelter-in-place orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. You just wouldn't expect an emergency management official to be among the number. Chris Godley, director of emergency management for California's Sonoma County, where he also heads the Emergency Operation Center, took his family to an undisclosed beach on Saturday in defiance of a shelter-in-place order, which allows travel only for essential trips, per the Press Democrat. "I own this," Godley tells the outlet, which reports photos of the trip were shared on Facebook. "It was a day off for my family. Any reasoning or justification is going to sound thin." The order went into effect on March 18. But with crowds still swarming parks and beaches, officials took the additional step of closing all parks and open spaces on March 23.

"The best action we can take is to stay close to home and limit our outdoor time to our yards and neighborhoods," the county health officer said at the time, per Patch.com. The day before the beach trip, Rohnert Park Public Safety Chief Tim Mattos said police officers would begin ticketing park visitors. "We can't possibly expect the community to hold themselves accountable if we don't hold ourselves accountable as well," responds an "extremely disappointed" county supervisor Lynda Hopkins, per SFist. But her colleague David Rabbitt argues different rules should apply to Godley. "If this was the doctor … would it be a sin?" he asks the Press Democrat. "I want my top people who are responding to this crisis to be of sound mind, body and health," he adds. "If that means going to the coast to feel better, I'm all for it." (Read more California stories.)

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