LOS ANGELES — California’s sweeping stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus resulted in a weekend like no other, with people staying indoors and keeping six feet apart when outside.
But there were some exceptions — including the state’s beloved beaches.
Complaints of noncompliance have popped up on social media and apps such as the neighborhood forum Nextdoor.com. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday tweeted out a photo of people congregating on the coast, imploring residents to stay home.
“We understand the communities’ frustrations with the LARGE amount of people traveling to the Coast today and NOT practicing social distancing. We are working with the Public Health Officers to address the issue. Please stay at home!” the Sheriff’s Office said.
While traffic was free-flowing in much of Southern California, there were still some backups Saturday on Pacific Coast Highway in the Santa Monica area.
The sense of fear seemed distant as the shadows lengthened over Santa Monica State Beach on Saturday afternoon. Alan Cohn, 90, and his partner, Elaine Cohen, 80, looked over a scene of people tanning and working out. One man did yoga. A group of four played volleyball.
“Would you believe we’re in the middle of a pandemic right now?” Cohen asked.
The couple bemoaned the loss of their routine. No more improv comedy Tuesdays. Or feeding homeless residents Wednesdays. And no dancing at the Marina City Club on Fridays.
But they were cheered by the people offering to run errands for each other and the vegan restaurant owner who was waiving his delivery fees. They didn’t see themselves getting sick, either.
“Naw,” Cohn said. “I was in the Marines, fighting in North Korea.”
Minutes later, a man sat down next to the couple, asking, “You mind if I sit here and take off my shoes?”
Cohen scooted over. “Just don’t breathe on me.”
San Diego’s beaches also saw an influx of people on Saturday.
Newsom on Saturday urged residents to take the order seriously.
“Be a good neighbor. Be a good citizen. Those young people that are still out there on the beaches thinking this is a party time — grow up,” Newsom said during a news conference on Facebook and Twitter on Saturday afternoon. “It’s time to wake up, time to recognize it’s not just about the old folks. It’s about your impact on their lives. Don’t be selfish, recognize you have a responsibility to meet this moment.”
The governor’s stay-at-home order will remain in effect until “further notice” and could be changed as conditions warrant, according to a statement released by the governor’s office. Issued under broad powers granted to the governor under the state’s Emergency Services Act, Newsom’s executive order is enforceable by law.
Anyone who violates the order could be charged with a misdemeanor, but Newsom said he did not believe that would be necessary because social pressures to adhere to the directive have been largely successful.
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