Gov. Gavin Newsom reportedly is planning to order the closure of all beaches and state parks in California in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has been sweeping the state since at least early March.
Leslie McGill, executive director of the California Police Chiefs Association, sent out an email Wednesday evening to law enforcement heads throughout the state saying Newsom would make an announcement Thursday about the closure, which would be effective on Friday.
The decision was made, McGill wrote, “after the well-publicized media coverage of overcrowded beaches this past weekend, in violation of Governor Newsom’s shelter-in-place order.”
As of late Wednesday, however, there had been no confirmation from Newsom’s office that such an order was coming.
Several beaches in Orange County were among the places that drew large crowds over the weekend, as people sought refuge from unseasonably hot temperatures.
With many people crowding the shoreline, it made social-distancing — a key tactic for preventing the virulent disease — difficult to accomplish.
Santa Barbara County officials said as recently as Monday that, despite a few problems, they thought the situation with the local beaches was reasonable and under control.
Both city and county law enforcement, along with lifeguard crews, were doing stepped-up patrols and mainly counseling people on what was needed and expected in terms of social-distancing and staying safe.
McGill indicated in her email that the Police Chiefs Association’s executive committee learned of the decision during a conference call Wednesday with Mark Pazin, chief of the Law Enforcement Division of the California Office of Emergency Services, California Highway Patrol Commissioner Warren Stanley, and representatives of State Parks.
“We wanted to give all of our members a heads up about this in order to provide time for you to plan for any situations you might expect as a result, knowing each community has its own dynamics,” she wrote.
Santa Barbara County Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, told Noozhawk late Wednesday that he was surprised by the idea that Newsom would be closing all of California’s beaches.
He reiterated the sentiment expressed earlier in the week that the situation locally was being managed effectively, despite a few problems.
County Public Health Department officials have noted that exercise and fresh air are helpful in maintaining a healthy community.
If Newsom does close the beaches, it is expected to be unpopular with the public, which already is chafing under the stay-at-home orders.