• Gov. Gavin Newsom is reportedly planning to announce the closures Thursday, which will then go into effect on Friday
  • Newsom's decision follows images and videos emerging over the weekend of beaches in Orange County packed with visitors despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
  • The situation mirrored Florida in March when residents and spring breakers continued flocking to beaches while Gov. Ron De Santis refused to close them 

Gov. Gavin Newsom reportedly is considering closing all California beaches Friday. The anticipated closures follow a weekend where thousands packed beaches in Orange County, despite the standing shelter-in-place order and social distancing guidelines.

“I laid out in very detailed terms yesterday, the strategy for California to make meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order,” Newsom said during his daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday. “Orange County has the fourth-highest number of people of all 58 counties, hospitalized in the state of California. I’m concerned about that.”

As of Thursday, California had 46,500 confirmed cases and 1,887 deaths from coronavirus.

Newsom said about 5% of California’s around 100 beaches were packed during the weekend as residents tried to escape the heatwave gripping through the state. Newport Beach in Orange County proved to be the busiest with around 90,000 people on Saturday and Sunday.

This mirrored the situation in Florida where crowds continued to flock to the state’s beaches in March despite the first boom in coronavirus cases. Gov. Ron De Santis refused to close them at the time, instead instituting limits on crowd sizes and telling local officials to increase police patrols to enforce social distancing guidelines. However, he was eventually forced to relent as the number of cases and deaths continued to rise.

As of Thursday, Florida has 33,193 confirmed cases and 1,218 deaths from coronavirus.

To help local authorities prepare for the closures, Newsom's office sent out a memo to all police chiefs in the state ahead of an expected Thursday announcement. It said state personnel would assist local officials in the closures and enforcement.

“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,” the memo acquired by Los Angeles Fox-affiliate, KTTV said.

The full police bulletin was shared on Twitter by KTTV.

Orange County Supervisor Donald Wagner said Newsom’s decision to close the beaches was not wise, saying beachgoers were following proper social distancing while out. He also cited “medical professionals” who talk about the mental and physical health benefits being out in the sun can bring.

“Moreover, Orange County citizens have been cooperative with California state and county restrictions thus far,” Wagner said in a statement. “I fear that this overreaction from the state will undermine that cooperative attitude and our collective efforts to fight the disease, based on the best available medical information.”

Governor Gavin Newsom imposed stay-at-home orders on all 40 million Californians on March 19