More Beaches, Low-Risk Businesses To Open in Orange County

California Governor Newsom Orders All Beaches In State To Close

HUNTINGTON BEACH (CNS) - Beaches in Orange County will be open today, with restrictions, and so-called “low-risk” businesses such as clothing and book stores, music shops, toy stores, sporting goods stores and florists -- all shuttered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic -- will reopen with curbside service only.

The move to allow some businesses to ramp back up comes as the state relaxes its health order and as Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will consider petitions from individual counties that want to go further and allow other businesses to open.

But, Newsom said, any decision to reopen other businesses will be based on strict guidelines, including reporting no more than one case per 10,000 residents in the last 14 days; reporting no deaths in the past 14 days; providing daily testing of 1.5 tests per 1,000 residents; having 15 contact- tracers available for every 100,000 residents; and ensuring hospitals have the capacity to handle a 35% surge in cases.

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, who is president of the California State Association of Counties, said she had a scheduled call with state health department officials Thursday evening and planned to propose a different standard for larger counties such as Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The density and higher population of the county will make it virtually impossible to get through two weeks without a COVID-19 related death for the foreseeable future, Bartlett said.

“We need to look at the right criteria and metrics relative to the population of the county -- something that is more fair and balanced,” Bartlett told City News Service.

New beach hours of 6 a.m.- 10 p.m. will be in effect in Newport Beach and will mirror the hours for beaches in Huntington Beach and San Clemente, Newport Beach public information manager John Pope told City News Service.

Pope said enforcement of the new “keep moving” rules was mostly about seeking voluntary compliance. Video shots of the beaches showed many beachgoers sunbathing, which is not allowed.

“The things we're looking for are the obvious indicators like someone is planning to camp out for a long stretch,” Pope said. “Lifeguards are looking for canopies, tents, umbrellas. We see them out there and when we do see them our lifeguards will try to educate those folks and say, `Hey, we can't have that under the current rules.'

“Some of them have been cooperative and some less cooperative, but right now we're trying to educate versus cite. And, if we do need to, the police can be called in and we can have the ability to issue citations. But we're not trying to do that now. We're trying to let people know the rules.”

California Governor Newsom Orders All Beaches In State To Close

The city is also using electronic message boards to reinforce the new rules, Pope said.

O'Neill said the city will try to get beachgoers to voluntarily comply with the new rules before having to resort to citations.

The active uses approved include walking, running, hiking, bicycling, swimming, surfing, bodysurfing, boogie boarding, kite surfing, paddle boarding, skim boarding and kayaking. Sunbathing is not allowed.

The city's boardwalk on the peninsula, the popular Wedge surfing spot and the parking lots will remain closed, Pope said.

Seal Beach, Huntington Beach and Dana Point reopened their beaches for active use Tuesday.

Meantime, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Orange County stood at 3,092 with 66 deaths.

The number of patients hospitalized with the virus dropped from 192 on Wednesday to 186, with the number of patients in intensive care decreasing from 73 to 69.

The total number of people in the county tested for the virus increased to 43,351 with 1,324 tests reported Thursday.

Of the county's total cases, 2% involve people under 18 years old; 9% are between 18-24; 18% are between 25-34; 15% are between 35-44; 18% are between 45-54; 17% are between 55-64; 10% are between 65-74; 6% are between 75- 84; and 4% are 85 and older.

Of the patients who died, 3% were 25 to 34 years old, 5% were 35 to 44, 8%, were 45-54, 14% were 55-64, 18% were 65-74, 29% were 75-84, and 24% were 85 or older.

Men make up 54% of the county's cases and 58% of its fatalities.

Whites account for 33% of the fatalities and Latinos 33%, followed by Asians (23%). According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, 5% were black, 2% were native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 2% are mixed race, and 3% fall into the category of “other.”

In the county's skilled nursing facilities, a total of 302 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, with 20 dying of complications from the virus, according to the county, which also reported 167 staff workers at the facilities have tested positive and one has died.

Photos: Getty Images

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