Protesters wanting California to ease or lift coronavirus stay-at-home rules held rallies Monday in Sacramento and Newport Beach.
They were the latest in a series of protests around the country pushing for an ease to social distancing. Health experts have said early social distancing in California helped the state avoid the the high death counts of New York and that lifting them too early could cause coronavirus to spread.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he understood the frustrations and anxieties being expressed by the protesters. But he cautioned that parts of the world that have relaxed coronavirus restrictions prematurely, including Singapore, have been quickly hit with a second wave of the virus.
“If we’re ultimately going to come back economically, the worst mistake we can make is making a precipitous decision based on politics and frustration that puts people’s lives at risk and ultimately sets back the cause of economic growth and economic recovery,” Newsom said.
The Newsom administration last week announced the six key indicators for altering the governor’s stay-home mandate, including the ability to closely monitor and track potential cases, prevent infection of high-risk people, increase surge capacity at hospitals, develop therapeutics and ensure physical distance at schools, businesses and child care facilities.
Newsom said he will provide an update on Wednesday as to where the state stands in each of those key areas, including the progress California is making in widespread testing.
A bipartisan group of elected officials from San Luis Obispo County on Monday asked Newsom to grant them the “authority to implement a phased reopening of our local economy,” a request that comes just days after Ventura County officials modified a stay-at-home order to permit some businesses to reopen and some gatherings to take place.
Over the last few days, there have been protests in San Diego, Huntington Beach and San Clemente.
On Monday in Newport Beach, a small band of demonstrators gathered outside City Hall to protest coronavirus-driven stay-at-home orders. About 30 people took to the sidewalk for the protest, which lasted less than two hours. Police reported no issues.
Newport’s significant hospitality industry is largely closed, and several coastal amenities are also off-limits or heavily restricted, including boardwalks, piers, beach parking and the famed Wedge surfing area.
As of Monday, Orange County had 1,676 known cases of the coronavirus and 33 related deaths. Statewide, there have been more than 33,000 confirmed cases and at least 1,200 deaths.