SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday a "hard close" of all beaches in Orange County after seeing thousands of people flock to coastal cities over the past weekend.
The order takes effect for all local and state beaches in the county beginning May 1.
During last weekend's heat wave across Southern California, a number of beaches in Orange County were visibly crowded with thousands of people. The sight clearly disturbed the governor, who once again admonished beachgoers during his daily coronavirus press conference.
"People that are congregating there that weren't practicing physical distancing that may go back to their community outside of Orange County and may not even know that they contracted the disease and now they put other people at risk, put our hospital system at risk," he said.
The governor said "mixing" with others, particularly in large groups, could delay the state's ability to reopen other activities as it tries to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"We can't be driven by ideology, we have to be driven by the spread of this disease," Newsom said. "This disease has not gone away."
Newsom added that he hopes the order won't last very long. But he said he felt he had to do it to protect public health.
A memo from the state police chiefs association to chiefs throughout the state on Wednesday indicated the organization believed Newsom was planning to close all beaches in the state. However, when the governor made his announcement, he said the closure would only apply to Orange County beaches.
"We're guided by health, we're guided by your health and the health of others. I want everybody to know no one is invincible," Newsom said.
Newsom said the problem wasn't widespread across the state though, and he pointed to Los Angeles County, where beaches remain closed.
Several local officials defended the decision to keep beaches open, with some insisting that beachgoers were maintaining social distancing.
California State Assemblymember Melissa Melendez fired back at Newsom's decision on Twitter, stating "This is not going to end well. Californians are not children you can ground when they don't 'behave' the way you want."
Orange County Board of Supervisors member Donald Wagner on Wednesday acknowledged the governor's ability to close the county's beaches, but said "it is not wise to do so."
"Medical professionals tell us the importance of fresh air and sunlight in fighting infectious diseases, including mental health benefits," Wagner wrote.
"Moreover, Orange County citizens have been cooperative with California state and county restrictions thus far. 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."
The Newport Beach City Council on Tuesday considered an ordinance to close the beaches for several weekends, but decided not to approve it.
Thousands pack Orange County beaches for second-straight day as SoCal heat wave continues
The Laguna Beach City Council, which closed its beaches last month, voted Tuesday to reopen them for "active use only'' on weekdays beginning Monday. Beachgoers were to be allowed if they kept 6 feet apart and they were prohibited from sitting down, putting a beach towel or chair on the sand. Only active uses like running or swimming were allowed.
Some of those beach cities have also seen large protests seeking to lift the stay-at-home orders. More than 200 showed up at one such rally in Huntington Beach and many of them were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.