Hundreds of protesters descended on a California beach demanding an end to lockdown rules – despite the massive US coronavirus death toll.

Up to 700 people packed out Huntington Beach, south of Los Angeles, defying an order closing all of Orange County’s beaches amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The order was issued by California’s state Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday after “concerning” images emerged of large crowds of beachgoers.

Images show protesters enraged by the stay-at-home orders being kept out of roads by police officers on horseback.

Some held banners with slogans such as “All jobs are essential” and “Freedom: We the people” as they ignored social distancing rules requiring people to stand at least six feet apart.

Another read “Recall Gavin Newsom.”

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America has seen a number of high profile anti-lockdown protests, many of them featuring supporters of Donald Trump and people carrying firearms.

They all bemoan the loss of their ‘freedom’ under lockdown, and believe the response to the deadly global pandemic is disproportionate to the problem.

The latest figures show more than 65,000 deaths and more than 1.1 million Americans infected by covid-19, by far the highest numbers of any country.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, one protester, Andrew Norman, said: “I served in the Army and fought tyrants and dictators overseas and this has gone too far.

“I didn’t do that to come back here and live under a tyrant in my own country.”

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