California Governor Shuts Down Restaurants, Theaters
Card rooms, indoor wineries, and bars closed over the weekend
At his coronavirus press conference today, California Governor Gavin Newsom directed 19 counties, including Los Angeles, to shut down restaurants for indoor dining before the Fourth of July weekend. Over the weekend, the governor had ordered bars and nightclubs closed.
The guideline to cease indoor operations is at least for the next 3 weeks. There are 19 counties on that list. Restaurants still will be allowed to offer food for pickup or delivery.
The state’s hospitals went from slightly more than 3,000 coronavirus patients in mid-June to more than 5,000 as of the most recent update. That’s a 52% increase in 14 days.
Newsom also called on those counties to shut down indoor family entertainment venues including movie theaters, bowling alleys, and arcades. Card rooms, indoor wineries, and bars also have to shut down in those counties.
Newsom’s Office of Emergency Services on Wednesday launched strike teams to help enforce the order. They will work with local health officials to target businesses that aren’t complying, OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said.
Newsom noted that viral spread at private gatherings is still a major concern for his administration, and urged people to stay socially distanced and wear masks when interacting with other people outside their household. The state had just started reopening a couple of weeks ago.
“Just because someone’s not going to tap you and issue a citation, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the right thing,” he said. “Wearing a face covering is a sign of toughness. It’s a sign of resolve. It’s a sign of someone who wants to give a damn.”
He also warned elderly residents and people with preexisting conditions that “there has never been a more vulnerable time for you” during this pandemic, and urged them to stay at home as much as possible.
The governor’s new directives come amid an unsettling surge in new cases, as well as higher infection rates and more hospitalizations in the weeks after the state and most counties began reopening businesses and easing up on other restrictions.
In the last 24 hours, 110 people have died from the virus, Newsom said. More than 5,100 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in California, a 51 percent increase in the last two weeks, and the rate of people testing positive has climbed to 6 percent over the last 14 days.
The 19 counties are all on the state’s “watch list” of counties that have been struggling to contain a resurgence of the coronavirus. They represent an estimated 70 percent of the state’s population.
The guidance applies to all counties that have been on the watch list for at least three consecutive days.
The order covers the following counties: Los Angeles, Sacramento, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Merced, San Joaquin, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare, Imperial, Santa Clara and Ventura.
The announcement comes during a two-plus-week spike in COVID-19 activity that has pushed California’s hospitalization and ICU totals to all-time highs.
Newsom two weeks ago issued a statewide order that people wear masks when in the presence of others, both indoors and outdoors.
He followed that up on Sunday by ordering seven counties on the watchlist to close down bars, and requesting eight other counties on that list to voluntarily do the same.
The California rollback comes as federal health officials, notably Dr. Anthony Fauci, said many states moved too quickly to reopen their economies, after a couple of months of “stay at home” orders – allowing the virus to begin a resurgence.
During the shutdowns, the country was seeing up to 23,000 new infections a day. That jumped beyond 40,000 some days in the last week. Fauci said he can see it increasing to 100,000 a day if states don’t adjust their strategies.
Sacramento County officials immediately said they would adhere to the governor’s request, and plan to issue a new local order by Thursday, telling restaurants to cease serving diners indoors in restaurants.
County health chief Dr. Peter Beilenson said Sacramento’s rising virus infection numbers have been due mainly to family gatherings in homes for birthdays and graduations.
“We still want to focus on family and in-house gatherings, but from a science-base, it makes sense” to ratchet back on indoor services as well, Beilenson said. “We’ll do the new order tomorrow.”