EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include information regarding the arrest of three individuals at Moonlight Beach.
ENCINITAS — Three people were arrested and cited today during a rally at Moonlight Beach, organized to protest beach closures and stay-at-home orders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The three were cited for violating the stay-at-home order and congregating on a closed beach, according to Lt. Amber Baggs of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
“Several protesters walked onto the beach and sat as deputies began speaking to them regarding the county public health order,” Baggs said. “The people were given multiple opportunities to comply with the state and county orders. Three attendees refused and were arrested.”
Protesters marched toward Swami’s Beach Park, and once there, began to disperse and left the area without incident at about noon, Baggs said.
“The Surf’s Up Shred the Tidal Wave of Tyranny” protest, scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon, was organized by Crista Anne Curtis, who led a similar protest last week.
Another protest was planned for Sunday at the Pacific Beach lifeguard station at 700 Grand Ave. starting at 1 p.m.
Dubbed “A Day of Liberty San Diego Freedom Rally,” that protest is being organized by Naomi Soria, according to social media posts announcing the rally. Soria organized last week’s downtown San Diego rally.
One of the protesters, Bryan Wampler, posted to the Facebook group “Free Encinitas” shortly after his arrest, saying, “Where was everyone? I got arrested for being on the beach with my surfboard. No one from this group was there to stand together.”
Meanwhile, at a news conference Saturday morning in front of a Lifeguard tower in Mission Beach, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Police Chief David Nisleit and San Diego Lifeguard Chief James Gartland went over the rules regarding the lifting of some beach restrictions, scheduled for Monday at sunrise.
Phase 1 of the beach re-opening plan, announced Friday, includes restrictions such as no group gatherings, no parking and no lying down to soak up the sun.
“In Phase 1, we get to run, we get to swim, we get to walk on the beach and you get to fish,” Gartland said. “You come to the beach, you get your exercise, then you go back and follow the stay-at-home order.”
Gartland said there is no recreational boating allowed at this time, but it would be part of the Phase 2 plan.
Faulconer praised San Diego residents for following the rules at city parks earlier this week, which has led to Monday’s planned re-opening of beaches.
“San Diegans have done a very good job this past week, with our neighborhood parks, adhering to all the social distancing,” Faulconer said.
“It’s going to be incredibly important for Phase 1 that that spirit, cooperation and adherence transfers over to Phase 1 of the beach openings.”
Nisleit asked that beachgoers on Monday follow the social distancing rules.
“What I need is cooperation,” Nisleit said. “So you will see law enforcement, you’ll see our beach team out here to enforce physical distancing, face coverings.
“The more we do this, the more we can go on to Phase 2,” Nisleit said. “No sitting on the beach and no loitering on the beach. For those that want to refuse, they will be cited. We don’t want to do that, but we need people to adhere to the rules. It allows us to get to Phase 2 and beyond. The better cooperation, the sooner we do that.”
As for the weekend protests, Nisleit said he supports the right to protest, but noted that some beach restrictions will be lifted on Monday, and urged Sunday’s protesters to stay at home and wait one day.
Officials in the beach cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach say they will not reopen beaches on Monday.