Large crowds opposing the state’s coronavirus stay-at-home mandate took to the streets of downtown Huntington Beach on Friday, a day after the governor closed Orange County beaches and drew frustration and criticism from some residents and city leaders.
On Friday, Orange County reported 2,537 cases to date – including 50 deaths – for a total of 34,128 cases, with Friday’s 163 new cases marking the highest daily total so far.
The state is now in its seventh week under coronavirus lockdown, with only businesses deemed essential allowed to operate.
Gyms, bars, shopping malls, restaurant dining rooms and sports arenas all remain shuttered.
In downtown Huntington Beach, known for its world-renowned surf break, protesters waved American flags from their car windows and carried signs reading “Open Cali now”.
A plane buzzed overhead with a sign reading “Fire gruesome Newsom! Open California”.
Joe Ranciato from Roseville, California, showed up to the protest inside a homemade socially distancing cage, made with plastic pipes and duct tape.
“I’m really fed up with what’s going on. I don’t like my freedom to be put in jeopardy,” said the 58-year-old.
Another Andrew Norman, told the Los Angeles Times: “I served in the Army and fought tyrants and dictators overseas and this has gone too far.
“I didn’t do that to come back here and live under a tyrant in my own country.”
Gov. Newsom acknowledged the building anxiety while repeatedly teasing the possibility the state could begin relaxing some aspects of the restrictions next week.
“We are all impatient. We have to be really deliberative on how we reopen this economy,” he said.
Newsom noted the state just passed the grim marks of 50,000 confirmed infections and 2,000 deaths but that hospitalization statistics are heading in a better direction and that has him hopeful.
All of that works because people have done an incredible job in their physical distancing.
“We can screw all that up. We can set all that back by making bad decisions,” he said.