A crowd estimated at 400 people gathered in front of the Huntington Beach pier Saturday to protest the first night of a statewide curfew on nonessential activity, which is aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

The people gathered as the curfew went into effect at 10 p.m. along Pacific Coast Highway at Main Street, crossing the highway when allowed by the traffic light, said Huntington Beach police Lt. Ryan Reilly.

By 11:30 p.m., the crowd appeared about half that size, said Reilly, who was watching the gathering via surveillance cameras. The protest ended shortly after midnight, he said.

Other than breaking the curfew, the group was law-abiding “for the most part,” Reilly said. One person was arrested for public intoxication. “Some, not all” wore face masks.

It appeared the vehicles passing through the area were part of the demonstration and the same vehicles were seen moving north and south on PCH, Reilly said.

Officers were there watching the activity but no illegal assembly was declared, he said.

Sergeants posted in the Main Street area reported that all of the bars, restaurants and other businesses closed by 10 p.m., as required by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new modified stay-home order, Reilly said. They’re still allowed to offer takeout after that time.

The department did not issue citations for curfew violations, he said. “We are seeking compliance and trying to educate people.”

For the next month, Newsom has ordered all nonessential workers to stay home as much as possible and most businesses to close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in counties where the virus is widespread, including Orange County and Los Angeles County.

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