Huntington Beach COVID 'Curfew Breakers' Rally to Protest Stay-at-Home Orders

A large crowd of people gathered in Huntington Beach to protest California's statewide curfew after it went into effect on Saturday night.

The latest restrictions to combat a surge in coronavirus cases require the vast majority of Californians to stay at home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. unless they are going out for essential work, responding to an emergency, shopping for groceries, picking up takeout or walking their dog.

The curfew applies to 41 of California's 58 counties which remain in the purple tier—the most restrictive of the four tiers that permit various stages of economic reopening.

Orange County, where Huntington Beach is located, is in the purple tier.

But a crowd of people broke the curfew immediately after it was enacted to join a rally protesting the limited stay-at-home order.

The "curfew breakers" protest was being planned to start at 10.01 p.m. at the Huntington Beach Pier on Saturday, according to a flier posted on Twitter by FoxLA reporter Bill Melugin.

"If you are a free American and are more than non essential join us for a clear act of defiance against Newsoms 10 pm stay at home order," the flier said.

"I'd like to see curfews go away," one person who attended the protest told CBS Los Angeles.

"I think there are too many restrictions, as is. Obviously, a lot of people don't agree with what our governor and city officials are doing, but I'd prefer to see something done a little bit different but curfews are just a little too far."

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes has said that his deputies won't be enforcing the limited stay-at-home order after it was announced by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

However, CBS Los Angeles reported that the group would have to disperse if an unlawful gathering was declared for another reason.

In a statement on Friday, Barnes said the Orange County Sheriff's Department had taken an "education-first approach" to public health orders throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

"At this time, due to the need to have deputies available for emergency calls for service, deputies will not be responding to requests for face-coverings or social gatherings-only enforcement," he said.

The nighttime curfew is expected to last a month, but could be extended if worsening trends do not improve.

"The virus is spreading at a pace we haven't seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm," Newsom said in a statement announcing the new measures.

"It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We've done it before and we must do it again."

California has had more than 1 million coronavirus infections and more than 18,000 deaths, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Huntington Beach
Protesters gather in a demonstration against coronavirus measures in Huntington Beach, California, on May 1. Apu Gomes/Getty Images