Newport, Huntington and Laguna to close beaches for the Fourth of July holiday weekend

Lifeguard boats patrol the shores on Wednesday in Newport Beach.
Lifeguard boats patrol the shores on Wednesday in Newport Beach.
(Scott Smeltzer/ Staff Photographer)

Beaches in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach will officially be closed Saturday and Sunday, ahead of what is considered the busiest summer weekend for beachgoers in Southern California.

The announcement came Thursday after the three cities voted for a Fourth of July closure, but also directed city managers to close the beaches on Friday and Sunday if circumstances arose.

Orange County officials also said that it would close county beaches on Saturday and Sunday including Aliso, Capistrano, Salt Creek, Baby Beach, Bayside, Camel Point, Poche, Strands, Table Rock, Thousand Steps, Treasure Island and West Street beaches.

Two lifeguards have tested positive, a third is showing symptoms and more than 20 are in quarantined, stretching staffing thin. Newport’s beaches will be shut down from 10 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday. Huntington Beach will also close its parking and pier in additions to beaches.

The decision to close both city and county beaches comes on the heels of Los Angeles County announcing Monday that it would close its beaches and ban fireworks displays during the Fourth of July weekend.

“I cannot in good conscience add more onto our lifeguards,” Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill said at an emergency City Council meeting Wednesday approving the closure after two seasonal lifeguards tested positive for COVID-19. “We just can’t responsibly ask our lifeguards to do more with less. We just can’t.”

All three cities said the decision to close Sunday follows neighboring cities and the county’s decision to close its beaches.

Police will be patrolling beaches in Newport, Laguna and Huntington and both Newport and Huntington’s piers will also be closed.

Beaches will be closed in Laguna Beach until 5 a.m. on Monday.

Newport Beach said it would be setting up barricades, signs and other notices on Thursday and Friday prior to closure at 10 p.m. Friday. Huntington Beach said it will also close metered stalls along Pacific Coast Highway and Beach Boulevard one day earlier, from Friday through Sunday.

Wednesday’s order applies to 19 counties where virus infections and hospitalizations have surged. In Orange County, 570 new infections and 542 hospitalizations were reported.

Newport’s oceanfront boardwalk will also be closed.

The responsecomes amid a spike in coronavirus cases in Orange County, with fatalities reported as high as 56 in the last week. On Tuesday, newly confirmed cases in the county reached a new, one-day record of 779.

Overall cases in Orange County reached 15,065 on Thursday, with 652 reported. Nine deaths were reported, and 556 cases are currently in hospitalization and 193 patients are in intensive care units.

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