California city votes to keep beaches open despite Newsom criticism of massive weekend crowds

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A California beach town facing criticism over photos from this past weekend showing a lack of social distancing among residents on its public beaches amid the coronavirus pandemic has voted to keep public parks and spaces open.

The Newport Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to keep the town’s public areas open during the coronavirus outbreak, a decision that reportedly came after hours of debate from attending townspeople, according to the OC Register.

The vote comes after weekend photos of the city’s beaches went viral, showing visitors in close proximity to one another, contradicting federal guidelines urging people to stay at least six feet apart to avoid spreading the disease.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), took aim at the town on Monday, calling the photos an “example of what not to see.”

“The virus is as transmittable as it’s ever been. … It is ubiquitous, it is invisible, and it remains deadly. Ask the 45 families who lost a loved one in the last 48 hours,” Newsom said.

Newport Beach also received hundreds of emails on the subject, with a majority of residents urging lawmakers not to close the beaches, Mayor Will O’Neill told the OC Register. The city reportedly plans to deploy extra police, firefighters and lifeguards to enforce social distancing guidelines going forward.

“Obviously this is a very serious issue and we have to stay ahead of it,” said Kevin Muldoon, a Newport Beach city councilor. “But it’s no cause for panic to close our beaches, to be afraid of others especially if they keep their distance.”

Nearby Laguna Beach also moved this week to allow temporary use of the beaches by residents on weekday mornings from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., while remaining closed on weekends and in the afternoon.

Tags California Coronavirus Gavin Newsom Social distancing

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