Thousand Oaks, California — A large group of mostly maskless people gathered Tuesday evening to protest a likely extension of Los Angeles County’s stay-at-home order, CBS Los Angeles reports. A group of more than 150 people gathered in the parking lot of the Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks at around 5:30.
Most weren’t wearing masks or adhering to social distancing guidelines, despite California’s raging COVID-19 surge.
The demonstrators, lead by Kirk Cameron, the actor known for “Growing Pains,” sang various Christmas carols.
The Constitution protects peaceful religious gatherings and protests from law enforcement intervention. But local health officials said Tuesday’s demonstration could prove deadly.
“Some super spreading events end up in people dying,” said Dr. Suman Radnakrishna of Dignity Health California Medical Center. “This is just for the season. The vaccine is coming, if we can just wait it out.”
The mall tweeted beforehand that it doesn’t “condone this irresponsible – yet constitutionally protected peaceful protest event.” The mall had asked that the event be moved but that didn’t happen.
The demonstration came after Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday the regional stay-at-home order the state imposed for Southern California will almost assuredly be extended beyond next week’s scheduled expiration date.
“We are likely, I think it’s pretty self-evident, going to need to extend those regional dates,” Newsom said. “… Based upon all the data and based upon all these trend lines, it is very likely based on those current trends that we’ll need to extend that stay at home order, (which) you recall was a three-week order when we announced it.”
Movements like this have been happening across the nation since December 6. The protests gained traction in California when Cameron encouraged people on Instagram to peacefully protest with song.
The movement has spread to other communities around L.A. through social media.
The regional stay-at-home order for the 11-county Southern California region, which took effect at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 6, was originally set to end on Dec. 28.
Newsom didn’t indicate when a decision on extending the order would be made or how much longer it would remain in place.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 12,954 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 88 deaths Tuedsday, bringing countywide totals to 647,542 cases, 9,016 of them fatal.