Californians weary of stay-at-home orders that have left millions unemployed staged displays of defiance Friday, with hundreds of flag-waving protesters gathering at the Capitol and along a famed Southern California beach, while a sparsely populated county on the Oregon border allowed diners back in restaurants and reopened other businesses.
While much of the state’s population remained behind closed doors to deter the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged the building anxiety while repeatedly teasing the possibility the state could begin relaxing some aspects of the restrictions next week. “We are all impatient,” the governor said during his daily briefing, adding “We have to be really deliberative on how we reopen this economy.” Newsom noted the state just passed the grim marks of 50,000 confirmed infections and 2,000 deaths but that hospitalization statistics are heading in a better direction and that has him hopeful. “We can screw all that up. We can set all that back by making bad decisions,” he said. “All of that works because people have done an incredible job in their physical distancing.” In Sacramento, as police lined steps outside the Capitol, protesters waved signs that said “Defend Freedom” and broke into “U-S-A” chants, most eschewing face masks intended to deter spread of the virus. A small plane circled overhead, displaying a banner carrying an image of Newsom’s face and the slogan, “End his tyranny.”