As reported on USAToday.com –
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said bars must close and indoor operations will need to stop in certain business sectors including restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos, museums and card rooms, in order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus ahead of Fourth of July weekend.
The order is effective immediately and Newsom expects it to be in place for at least three weeks.
“This doesn’t mean restaurants shut down,” Newsom said. “It means we’re trying to take activities, as many activities as we can, these mixed activities, and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus.”
The order applies to the 19 counties that have been on the state’s monitoring list for at least three consecutive days. Those counties include:
- Contra Costa
- Los Angeles
- San Bernardino
- San Joaquin
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Clara
Newsom said the closures are designed to focus on indoor operations, which have been open for several weeks. Some of the affected sectors, like movie theaters, bowling alleys and arcades, were allowed to reopen less than three weeks ago. Restaurants were able to open to indoor dining on Memorial Day weekend.
Additionally, state beach parking facilities will close in Southern California and the Bay Area, though Newsom is not mandating their closure. The state ordered beaches to close in counties where local officials have already done so.
The state on Tuesday reported 5,898 new COVID-19 cases and 110 virus-related deaths, with a positivity rate of 6% over the last 14 days, Newsom said. Two weeks ago, the state’s positivity rate was 4.6%.
Newsom in recent days has warned residents about becoming lax with public health protocols like wearing masks and physical distancing, especially at family gatherings, in advance of the Fourth of July holiday. It’s “a weekend that has raised a lot of concern from our health officials,” he said Wednesday. As such, he’s urging counties to shut down fireworks displays and telling residents to avoid gatherings with people from outside of their household.
“Patriotism, at least in a COVID-19 environment, can be expressed a little bit differently with consideration of our independence again from COVID-19,” Newsom said. “That needs (to) come with conditions and considerations on wearing masks and making sure we’re physically distanced.”
Newsom urged people to avoid family gatherings or meeting up with friends and neighbors who aren’t in their immediate household. While people may have the best of intentions and come wearing masks, they may get lax as the party goes on, he said.
Newsom also announced the launch of “strike teams” that will be responsible for targeting non-compliant workplaces, comprised of state representatives working in partnership with local health departments. He said they’re going to target workplaces that have had multiple abuses complaints.
Newsom said the enforcement measures will start with education, as well as enforcing state codes and licenses. The state also will look at regulatory and fiscal pieces, he said. It’s not just about wearing masks, Newsom added, but health and safety in workplaces.
“One should not have to put their life at risk to go to work as an essential worker,” Newsom said.
As many tribal casinos remain open, Newsom said the state is “in deep conversations and will be making public the fruits of those efforts to at least get a rationale of understanding between partners in our sovereign nations and the state of California.”
Newsom initially put the state under a shelter-in-place order in mid-March that closed all but essential services. As the curve of coronavirus cases flattened, more sectors of businesses and services were allowed to reopen in May and into June in counties that attested they had the virus under control and a plan in place to handle surges.
While public health officials expected cases to rise in connection with the reopenings, the spikes in some places have come with a higher positivity rate, or the percent of tests coming back positive, as well as concerns about overloading hospital systems.
Newsom on Tuesday addressed residents who aren’t wearing face coverings when going out in public. Though the state requires masks under an order issued in June, not all are following suit He called mask-wearing a sign of character and resolve.
“It’s a sign of someone who gives a damn,” Newsom said. “It’s a sign of someone who wants to solve a problem.”