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【美國】Tens of thousands flout social distancing rules to descend on California beaches during COVID-19

Police have been forced to close a California beach after thousands of people flouted the lockdown to bask in a heatwave.

An estimated 40,000 people descended on Newport Beach on Friday, while Huntington beach and scores of others were also rammed this weekend. Temperatures hit 32C degrees in some parts of California, which was one of the first US states to shut down as the death toll rose to 1,600. Officers in Pacific Grove had to close Lovers Point Park and Beach on Saturday after it became too overcrowded, while San Diego police arrested three people who were protesting beach closures.

Huntingdon Beach was crowded with thousands of people on Saturday (AFP via Getty Images)

"I know they have rules and restrictions, but people aren't listening," John Overchuck, 45, who lives on New Smyrna Beach said.

"I walked on the beach 10 minutes ago and it's packed. That wasn't supposed to happen."

Brian O'Rourke, a lifeguard chief at Newport Beach, added: "It’s crowded out. We haven’t had too many issues with [social distancing] as lifeguards.

Newport Beach in California saw 40,000 people cram onto its sands on Friday alone

(Getty Images)

"Our primary mission is watching the water. We’ve had dozens of ocean rescues and hundreds of preventative actions." Most of beaches in California - including all in Los Angeles - remain shut, while others have reopened but crowds still defied orders to socially distance.

Dozens of residents protested at Huntingdon Beach recently over California's lockdown rules. The state's Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted: "CA can only keep flattening the curve if we stay home and practise physical distancing. You have the power to literally save lives."

It comes after crowds crammed onto beaches in Florida last weekend after some of the measures were eased. President Donald Trump has tweeted backing anti-lockdown rallies, calling last week for Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia to be "liberated".


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