California beaches saw a surge in visitors this weekend, in spite of the coronavirus pandemic and the stay-at-home order in the state. According to a report by CBS News, over 50,000 people descended on Huntington Beach and Newport Beach on Friday and Saturday, as a heatwave struck the area. Many are now worried that California's early success in reducing new COVID-19 cases has made the population over-confident as the outbreak rages on.
While California is under one of the most strict stay-at-home orders in the United States, the rules are not quite the same everywhere. Beaches are technically still open in Orange County, though attendance has been low until now. Other beaches and state parks have been partially or completely shut down, either by orders from local officials or Gov. Gavin Newsom. Seeing the crowded beaches this weekend sparked outrage on social media.
"It's hot out, and we're seeing the crowds increase, doubling every day," Newport Beach lifeguard Battalion Cheif Brian O'Rourke told reporters. "Yesterday we had about 20,000 people. Today I would expect almost double that."
Photos from within the crowded beaches and from nearby, as well as aerial photography and video from local news outlets circulated on social media this weekend, infuriating many onlookers. Many wondered what made those revelers believe it was safe to be out in such large numbers, even if it was allowed by law. They also wondered why Orange County beaches were not subject to the same lockdowns as other counties.
Many people online also compared the response to these photos to the response to similar pictures from Florida beaches. Some complained about a double standard between the two coastal states.
Meanwhile, not everyone at the beaches was celebrating this weekend. At least one large protest was taking place at Venice Beach, with demonstrators calling for an end to stay-at-home orders across the nation and a return to normal life, regardless of the cost in human life. Here is a breakdown of how social media responded to the California beach photos this weekend.
Newport Beach, California
'JUST STAY HOME'
PLEASE FUCKING LISTEN AND JUST STAY HOME. California has like ~3 MORE WEEKS before we hit 0 deaths a day. LESS TIME THAN OTHER STATES. please don’t FUCKING go to the BEACH now so we can ALL get a little more freedom in the coming months FUCK!!! aLso so ??? LESS PEOPLE DIE— tommy. (@toozurnt) April 25, 2020
This is not Florida and is happening right now in Huntington Beach, California (left) and Salk Creek Beach (right) - both in Orange County. Insanely, they aren't breaking the law. Numbers jumped this week, California averaged 1,692 new cases and 80 deaths per day. pic.twitter.com/B8Ysfydoxh— Joshua Frank (@joshua__frank) April 25, 2020
It's a beautiful sunny day here in Pacific Beach, California, where people are demonstrating against the lockdown orders. Protesters are chanting "No New Normal" and "What do want? Freedom. When do we want it? Now." pic.twitter.com/sprtN4cL9Z— Travis View (@travis_view) April 26, 2020
'Can't Arrest A Thousand People'
Reports say over 40k people flood California beaches— KrisAnne Hall, JD 💎 (@KrisAnneHall) April 26, 2020
They can't arrest a thousand people
They can't arrest 200 people
When will people wake up & realize
WE GOVERN THE GOVERNMENT
Time to WAKE UP
Time to STAND UP
Time to TAKE BACK your Rights!#LibertyFirsthttps://t.co/GOT2uoXAay pic.twitter.com/ckmsWaCyLx
California was doing so good with social distancing and now y’all are partying or at the beach bc it’s too hot?!?! honestly idk what to do anymore— Sophie Anastas (@sophieeanastas) April 26, 2020