'I will not enforce it': Humboldt sheriff says governor's beach closure would violate constitutional rights

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Even if Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of California beaches, Humboldt County isn't planning on making any changes.

"As Sheriff, I am the protector of constitutional rights in Humboldt County, and if an order is issued that I believe violates our constitutional rights, I will not enforce it," said Sheriff William Honsal.

News broke Wednesday night that Gov. Newsom was considering closing all beaches statewide after photos of crowded Southern California beaches over the weekend showed people violating social distancing guidelines. On Thursday, he clarified he would only be closing beaches in Orange County.

"Those images are an example of what not to see, what not to do if we're going to make the meaningful progress we've made the past couple of weeks," the governor warned in a press conference earlier this week.

READ MORE: Gov. Gavin Newsom admonishes Californians who went to crowded beaches, warns it could delay reopening

A memo from the California Police Chiefs Association obtained by our sister station KABC indicated the order is expected to go into effect Friday, May 1.

"The governor is a smart man," Honsal said in a statement. "I hope he follows sound advice. It is not okay to punish Northern California for Southern California's mistake, and I hope he hears that loud and clear."

Editor's note: This story originally reported Gov. Newsom would close all beaches in California and has been updated to reflect his clarification in a press conference Thursday afternoon. Sheriff Honsal issued a statement following the governor's press conference, saying in part, "I'm grateful the governor didn't move forward with a plan that would have unnecessarily and arbitrarily restricted access to our coastline. ... Closing beaches in areas where people weren't following social distancing is a more appropriate response than a statewide closure."

See more on the governor's decision to close Orange County beaches here.

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