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Huntington Beach mounts legal fight against Newsom closure of O.C. beaches

The Huntington Beach City Council voted Thursday night during an emergency session to seek an injunction against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order to close Orange County beaches.

The governor ordered Orange County beaches closed on Thursday despite opposition from local leaders who argue they should decide whether it’s safe to hit the sand.

Over the weekend, thousands flocked to Orange County beaches, which remain open even though Los Angeles County beaches are closed.

Southern California had its first big heat wave over the weekend, but L.A. County beaches are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Beaches in nearby counties were open, however. Here are a few scenes from the weekend.

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“Specific issues on some of those beaches have raised alarm bells,” Newsom said. “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.”

Newsom said Orange County beaches would be reopened soon if the situation improved.

The council voted 5-2 to approve filing for an emergency injunction to block Newsom’s closure order.

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Earlier in the day, Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta said the city invested considerable effort and expense to discourage overcrowding at the beaches and worked hard to ensure the public had safe access to the beach for exercise and their mental well-being.

“Our experience here locally has been that most people are being responsible and complying with social distancing, and given that Orange County has among the lowest per capita COVID-19 death rates in California, the state’s action today seems to prioritize politics over data,” Semeta said in a written statement.

In a statement on Thursday, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said his intention “is to not take enforcement action on this order.”


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