HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - A large crowd that failed to display social distancing gathered in Huntington Beach Friday afternoon in opposition to multiple restrictions that have been implemented by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
About 700 protesters, many of them without face coverings, milled around Huntington Beach downtown near the pier. Police on horseback kept them out of the streets.
An order went into effect May 1 to close all Orange County beaches as another warm weekend hit Southern California.
Newsom announced a hard closure of Orange County beaches during his daily coronavirus briefing Thursday afternoon after he saw "concerning" images of large crowds who weren't practicing social distancing.
Huntington Beach and Dana Point planned to challenge Newsom's order.
A temporary restraining order hearing was scheduled at 2:30 p.m. for the legal challenges to the governor's beach closures in Orange County.
The governor, in his daily briefing, brushed off the lawsuits in alluding to the TRO hearing scheduled before an Orange County Superior Court judge.
"It doesn't surprise me,'' Newsom said. "We'll see what happens this afternoon."
On mass gatherings like this one, Newsom hinted at announcements next week that could lead to a relaxing of stay-at-home orders, but added, "We can screw all that up. We can set all that back by making bad decisions."
"All of that works because people have done an incredible job in their physical distancing. But we change that and we see the images we saw last weekend and concentration of thousands of people, we could start to see a spread again,'' he said. "That's the only thing that could set us back."
In addition, the crowd was also mixed in with those fighting to "Reopen CA."
One of the protesters, Monica Beilhart of Tustin, said "only a few'' of the demonstrators wore masks and that some of the local stores opened for business. A plane flew overhead referring to the governor as "gruesome Newsom" as it called on him to "open California," Beilhart said.
CNS contributed to this report.