Public beaches across California were filled with sunbathers and swimmers this weekend despite Governor Gavin Newsom’s order for Californians to stay at home to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Governor issued the statewide order on Thursday, March 19, asking all residents — almost 40 million people in total — to remain inside their homes until further notice. Under the new directive, people are only allowed out to pick up food and other essential items.
“CA is issuing a statewide, mandatory STAY AT HOME order. Those that work in critical sectors should go to work,” Newsom tweeted on Thursday. “We need to meet this moment and flatten the curve together.”
Photos of Huntington Beach from this weekend show people openly ignoring the public health mandate, flooding beaches and the public spaces surrounding them to sunbathe, swim, surf, bike and more.
According to guidelines on the California state website, residents can leave their homes for exercise and air, though they are recommended to stay six feet apart from other people to practice safe social distancing. Photos show this instruction is not being followed either.
Previous studies have shown a typical flu virus can spread as far as 6 to 8 feet from coughing or sneezing.
Social distancing for individuals is described by Harvard Health as “maintaining enough distance between yourself and another person to reduce the risk of breathing in droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”
These troubling photos from California come just a week after PEOPLE reported that Florida beaches were still packed with spring breakers despite recommendations from health and government officials there to practice social distancing in order to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Several images of Florida sunbathers went viral on Twitter after local ABC reporter Sarah J. Hollenbeck shared photos of the packed coast last Monday.
“BUSY BEACH! This is what @MyClearwater Beach looks like right now as spring break crowds flock to the sand,” she shared.
On Wednesday, Clearwater voted to close its beaches effective Monday, March 23.
Many counties across the Sunshine State have also closed their beaches to the public, including popular areas like Miami-Dade County, Pinellas County, Lee County, Collier County and more.
As of Monday morning, there are now at least 33,018 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, as testing becomes more readily available. 428 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus-related illness.
There have been 1,849 cases recorded in California, with 33 deaths. 1,003 cases have been recorded in Florida, with 12 deaths.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.
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