“We Want Freedom” was the message on sign after sign on Sunday as thousands of protesters swilled tequila, rode bikes and skateboards and headed to the beach in open defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “hard closure” of state beaches.
And the protesters apparently won – just days after Newsom’s action to close Orange County beaches, it was announced that the beaches in Laguna Beach and San Clemente will reopen with restrictions, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Nomads Canteen, a Mexican bar and restaurant in San Clemente, became one of the focal points of protests on Sunday. Jeff Gourley, owner, said he limited his indoor seating to 40 per cent, but the partying crowd spilled out onto the patio and sidewalk, attracting the attention of police, the Daily Mail reported.
“People are saying I have blood on my hands and that their grandma is going to die,” Gourley said. “But I'm not forcing anyone to come here. If you don't feel the way we do, just stay home.”
At Huntington Beach, mounted police corralled crowds of protesters who were waving American flags and carrying signs saying, “Facts Not Fear” and “Open Our Churches.”
Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta said, “This is Surf City. Our identity is very much tied up in our beaches,” the Daily Mail reported.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said he would focus on voluntary compliance and did not plan to make arrests.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun said, “As long as people are social distancing and doing what they’re expected to do, the sheriff does not have interest in criminalizing people enjoying the beach,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
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