SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CA — Following protests over the weekend, officials on Monday urged San Diego County residents to “stay the course” and continue to stay home and follow other public health orders for the rest of April.

“I would like to commend the public for staying the course, and we want you to stay the course until the end of this month so that we can continue to see a decrease in the spread of COVID-19 and we can have enough evidence to justify dialing down and loosening up some of the public health orders and recommendations,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer.

Over the weekend, protests were held across the county in response to the statewide shutdown and county and city closures.

On Saturday, a protest was held in downtown San Diego in front of the San Diego Superior Court, where people protested the stay-at-home orders. On Sunday, people marched along South Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas to protest the closure of beaches, parks, and trails.

“We will see if we see any change in the number of cases over the next couple of weeks,” Wooten said regarding the protests. “We will be monitoring that closely.”

Saturday’s protest happened in the San Diego Police Department’s jurisdiction while Sunday’s protest took place in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdiction.

“The San Diego Police Department and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department recognize this fundamental right while balancing it with the need to enforce the public health orders. Both on Saturday and Sunday, the protests remained peaceful and once people’s voices were heard, the protests ended,” the departments said in a joint statement.

“Throughout these challenging times, law enforcement’s role has been to maintain public safety by ensuring community members are in compliance with the state and county regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Numerous warnings have been given along with citations to those who violated these orders.”

Although authorities allowed the protests to take place, both departments urged people to follow the public health orders to continue to help slow the spread of the virus in the San Diego region.