California Gov. Gavin Newsom will order all beaches and state parks closed starting Friday after people thronged the seashore during a sweltering weekend despite his social distancing order, according to a memo sent to police chiefs around the state. Eric Nuñez, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, said it was sent to the group's members Wednesday evening so they have time to plan ahead of Newsom’s expected announcement Thursday. A message to the governor’s office seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned, the AP reports. While most state parks and many local beaches, trails, and parks have been closed for weeks, Newsom's order is sure to ignite pushback from communities who argue that they can safely provide some relief to residents who are starved of fresh air.
Newsom's beach order follows a weekend in which some 80,000 people flocked to Newport Beach in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, with additional thousands gathering at open beaches in Ventura County, north of LA. Lifeguards said most people appeared to be heeding social distance safety rules such as limiting groups and not lingering on the sand. But the crowds irked Newsom, who has said California's 40 million residents should try to stay home as much as possible. "This virus doesn't take the weekends off, this virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful sunny day around our coasts," he said Monday. (Click for more, including tensions between Newsom and local leaders.)