Calif. Governor shuts down indoor dining due to COVID-19 spike
By Terry Miller
On the eve of a major U.S. holiday, America’s Independence Day celebration, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a huge blow the newly reopened restaurant business — at least for to their indoor dining business. Wednesday, Newsom ordered 19 California counties (Contra Costa, Fresno Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura) to close all indoor dining operations at restaurants for “at least 3 weeks,” the he said at a noon press conference.
Newsom also ordered a halt to indoor operation in movie theaters, wineries, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and card rooms. Bars must close all operations. Wineries, bars and tasting rooms were already shuttered in some counties, including Los Angeles, on Sunday.
“This doesn’t mean restaurants are shut down, just indoor dining,” Newson proclaimed. However, for the majority of eateries that don’t yet have outside dining, the exact opposite could be true, sending the already overwhelmed businesses into yet another tailspin.
California has been encouraging cities to expand outdoor dining, but many of those efforts are in the early stages. Some Southern California cities have taken steps to allow restaurants to open temporary outdoor dining areas on sidewalks, in parking lots, or even in streets. The City of Sierra Madre is one such example where restaurants, like Lucky Baldwin’s Delirium Café, have increased outside table capacity thanks to a progressive new city policy that encourages businesses to go al fresco.
The governor also announced that all parking facilities at state beaches in Southern California and the Bay Area will be closed this weekend. In counties that close local beaches, the state will follow their lead and also close state beaches.
The state, he said, will actively seek and enforce those in violation of the new orders. Enforcement will be handles by multi-agency strike teams that include Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CalOSHA), the Department of Business Oversight, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
These new orders come on the news of serious increases in hospitalizations and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California. Newsom used what he called the “dimmer switch” to scale back reopening measures in more hard-hit counties like Los Angeles.
A recent survey of L.A. County restaurants that reopened post shutdown detected that 83% were in some form of violation of the new safety guidelines. This apparently didn’t sit well with the governor and health departments and hence Newsom’s decree Wednesday to shutter indoor dining again.
White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci issued a serious warning Tuesday to lawmakers, telling them he wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. sees 100,000 new cases a day, according to CNN.
“We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around and so I am very concerned,” Fauci said.
Are we close to another shutdown? Well, that depends on who you talk to.
“We’re going to have to face the harsh reality in some states that we may need to shut down again” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor at George Washington University School of Medicine in a CNN report published June 25.
Los Angeles County has over 103,000 cases with 3,369 deaths reported as of Tuesday. The news daily total for Tuesday was 2,779 with 45 deaths according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The state reported a 43% increase in coronavirus hospitalizations over the last two weeks. The state’s coronavirus positivity rate jumped to 5.6% in the last two weeks, and to 5.9% in the last week.
Across the state’s counties, 5,077 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Tuesday.
“We’ve got Fourth of July coming up,” Newsom said in a press conference las Thursday. “We have rules of the road — expectations — that we believe need to be met, and cannot impress upon people more important at this critical juncture, when we are experiencing an increase in cases that we had not experienced in the past, to take seriously this moment.”
The United States could be approaching a serious and “worrying rise in coronavirus infections after widespread protests and business reopenings have created the opportunity of revival to the deadly virus, experts warn,” according to a report by Aljazeera on June 12. By October, over 175,000 deaths have been projected based on current projection scenario by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
States in the Northeast, that used to be the U.S. coronavirus epicenter, announced restrictions for travelers from states seeing upticks in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Travelers from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah arriving in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will be subject to a 14-day quarantine. It’s a major turnaround and mirrors the European Union restricting travel from the U.S.
Tuesday saw 48,000 new coronavirus cases in the U.S. — the highest number of new cases reported in one day since the beginning of the pandemic.
What this all means is conjecture but suffice to say: California and many other states are not out of the woods, yet. Heeding the advice of state and federal health officials to wear masks is essential, mandatory and just common courtesy.