SAN DIEGO (CNS) — Protesters gathered near a lifeguard station in Pacific Beach Sunday to protest state and county stay-home orders and beach closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 100 people rallied with U.S. flags and protest signs next to the PB Shore Club at 4343 Ocean Blvd., most not following social distancing orders or wearing facial coverings. Two police motorcycle officers circled the area with dozens of officers patrolling on foot.
The protest, dubbed “A Day of Liberty San Diego Freedom Rally,” was organized by Naomi Soria, who organized last week’s downtown San Diego rally. It was not immediately known whether anyone was cited for violating the stay-at-home order or congregating on a closed beach.
“I’m part a small business,” one protester told FOX 5. “We alone are going to lose $80,000 just this month. We’re just a small piece of the pie.”
Another protester said she wasn’t wearing her mask but carried it in her hand.
“There are a lot of people crowded around here, that’s true,” she said. “I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other on that one. If I’m six feet close to somebody I try to put it up to my mouth but it’s hard to breathe frankly.”
The protest began at 1 p.m. and people started to leave the area near the lifeguard tower after about half an hour, gathering at the corner of Mission Boulevard and Grand Avenue.
Pacific Beach Town Council officials responded to the protest in a statement, calling it an exploitation of the neighborhood by out-of-towners.
“Most of these protesters will be driving in from other parts of the county,” the statement reads. “We strongly oppose this. Phase 1 reopenings of beaches and bays are already scheduled to begin the morning after this attention-seeking protest. Our Northern Division police officers are overburdened enough without having to chaperone this planned protest of hundreds.”
At Moonlight Beach on Saturday, three people were arrested and cited by sheriff’s deputies during a protest. The three were cited for violating the stay-at-home order and congregating on a closed beach.
The County of San Diego Health Department announced Friday it would lift the restrictions on going into the ocean starting Monday, but left it up to cities and state parks whether to open the beaches.
San Diego beaches are set to open Monday morning for surfers, swimmers, kayakers and paddleboarders in the ocean and runners and walkers on the sand. The Phase 1 plan restricts group gatherings, parking and lying down to soak up the sun.