Protests were staged in at least 11 California cities, urging the authorities to lift the restrictions imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and reopen the state as quickly as possible.
On Friday, more than 500 protesters converged on Huntington Beach, a city in Orange County located 60 km south of Los Angeles downtown. They carried banners that read “All Jobs are essential” and “Freedom: We the people”, reports Xinhua news agency.
On Thursday, state authorities ordered Orange County to close all beaches, many of whom remained open despite the ban issued weeks before.
Protests also occurred on Friday in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and other cities almost at the same time as California Governor Gavin Newsom’s daily noon briefing on novel coronavirus.
The campaign was organized by the local “Reopen California” Facebook groups which have thousands of members.
On the organizers’ official website, all people taking part in the protests are required to maintain CDC guidelines for prevention, including keeping social distancing from non-family members, but they could decide on whether to wear masks or any other face coverings.
However, photos posted online showed while some protesters wore face coverings, most of them neither wore marks nor followed social distancing guidelines.
Local police monitored the protests but did not arrest any attendee.
Newsom, at his Friday news conference, said he understood the concerns of protesters but urged residents in California to continue to obey the stay-at-home order and emphasized that some easing of the rules was days away.
He reiterated that he felt the pressure to reopen the state, but only scientific data could decide the schedule.
“Politics will not drive our decision making. Protests will not drive our decision making. Political pressure will not drive our decision making,” said Newsom.
“The science, data and public health will drive our decision making.”
California’s confirmed coronavirus cases has increased over 48,000 cases, with more than 1,900 deaths.