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Governor orders Orange County beaches to close, but others can stay open

People stroll along Windansea beach in La Jolla the morning of April 27 after the beach was reopened for swimming, surfing, walking, jogging, and single-person paddleboarding and kayaking.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered beaches in Orange County to close until further notice, though he did not close all beaches in the state.

Newsom made the announcement April 30, days after tens of thousands of people in Orange County packed beaches during a sunny weekend.

It also came three days after San Diego reopened city beaches after a roughly month-long closure to prevent large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

One hour after the 6:04 a.m. sunrise Monday, the beach at La Jolla Shores was freckled with surfers and walkers appreciative that ocean access was once again allowed after more than a month of being shut down due to efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Newsom said he hopes the order won’t last long. But he said he felt he had to do it to protect public health.

A memo to the state’s police chiefs the day before indicated Newsom planned to close all beaches in the state.

But in his announcement, the governor said the order applied only to beaches in Orange County.

Several California coastal communities have allowed beaches to open with some restrictions.

Several San Diego County politicians made it clear before Newsom’s announcement that they did not agree with the possibility of closing all beaches.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who praised residents early this week for their responsible behavior at the reopened beaches, said such a decision would send the wrong message.

County Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox sent letters to Newsom saying the region had successfully implemented a safe plan and deserved the right to make the decision.

“We remain steadfastly committed to following your executive orders, but actions that appear punitive when our residents have been faithful and fully compliant make this challenging,” Cox wrote.

Jacob said that instead of closing beaches, Newsom should offer regions greater flexibility as they continue to tackle the challenges presented by the pandemic.

The rules for San Diego’s beach reopenings are:

Oceans:

Only swimming, surfing and single-person paddleboarding and kayaking are allowed.

Beaches and shorelines:

Only walking and running are allowed.

No stopping, sitting or lying down.

Closed:

Boardwalks

Piers

Parking lots

Not permitted:

Gatherings

Activities without physical distancing

Boating

La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.