As reported here on Friday, San Diego County officials announced that effective April 27 at sunrise, cites within the county are being allowed to re-open their beaches and oceans to exercise (meaning surfing is OK, sitting on the beach is still not), but it’s up to each individual city to decide exactly how and when to safely do so.
Shortly afterward, the mayor of the City of Encinitas tweeted that Encinitas beaches will reopen Monday at sunrise. But for some impatient protestors, Monday morning wasn’t soon enough. Nor is the new “exercise only” clause acceptable.
On Saturday, 50 or so people from the “Surfs Up Shred The Tidal Wave Of Tyranny” Facebook group [whether or not it was named by this man is unclear at present] gathered at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas and made a scene, waving signs that said things like “Only Kooks Close Beaches” and “Freedom Over Fear” while spitting insults at officers who did a great job keeping their cool. Had the group stayed off the beach, the police likely would have allowed them to make their noise, wave their flags, and leave. But, when a few decided to step onto the sand, sit down and refuse to move, they were quickly arrested in violation of the public health order. In the video above, the arrested can be seen in handcuffs being led to the cruiser, one with dry hair and his wetsuit still half-on.
While many saw the announcement on Friday to peel back restrictions as a step towards returning to normalcy, it (apparently) still wasn’t good enough for some people.
“I don’t care that they’re opening up on Monday, they’re still putting all these restrictions and rules as [to] how we can use them,” said Crista Curtis, who organized both this rally and the one last week at Swamis. “We all have to get this virus in one way or another, I shouldn’t have to keep walking, I should be able to lay on my towel with my friends and my family and enjoy the beach.”
In the announcement to reopen beaches on Friday, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher pleaded with the public “to exercise the appropriate restraint”. Or in other words, to access the ocean and the beach responsibly by maintaining social distancing, not gathering in groups and, presumably, to not lay on towels alongside friends and family.
While the COVID-19 restrictions are a divisive issue, and in the surf world it’s clearly no different, hopefully these types of protest gatherings don’t throw a wrench in things for law-abiding people looking forward to getting back in the water this week. With that in mind, it’s extremely important that surfers respect social distancing guidelines and prove to local officials that we can ride waves responsibly as beaches reopen.