SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday afternoon that the state would be shutting down indoor operations for restaurants, zoos, museums and several other sectors effective immediately due to concerns over the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
The governor said that state officials were focusing on certain sectors of the economy where the spread of coronavirus is more likely to occur to mitigate the spread.
Effective immediately, Newsom said California is instructing specific sectors to close indoor operations due to the risk of spread. The new mandate applied to all counties that have been on the state’s county monitoring list for three consecutive days.
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The sectors required to close their indoor facilities include restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, and cardrooms, Newsom said.
That guidance will be in place for the next three weeks.
The list of counties on the monitoring list had grown from 11 counties last week to 19 counties as of Monday, where the list currently stands. The Bay Area counties on the list include Contra Costa, Solano and Santa Clara counties.
Newsom said the upcoming holiday weekend added increasing urgency to changing the reopening timeline.
“We’re looking at the totality of these 19 counties with increased spread, increased concern and we are trying to build around a framework of being proactive this weekend and get us through Fourth of July weekend in a way where we’re not seeing a significant increase and spike in cases in a few weeks hence because we’re putting ourselves and others in a difficult situation where the spread was more likely, not less likely,” explained Newsom
The governor said that all parking facilities at state beaches in Southern California and the Bay Area would be closed for the upcoming holiday weekend. In counties that have closed local beaches, the state will follow suit to close state beaches in those areas.
He advised that counties with mandatory closures should consider canceling firework shows on the Fourth of July.
Newsom also reiterated his caution against becoming complacent at family gatherings.
“We come with good intentions; we may come with masks, we may be wearing those masks at the beginning of that time together. But invariably, after a few hours, after a drink or two, after eating some food, masks are then put aside and families begin to mix that hadn’t seen each other in some time and the prospect of increasing transmission presents itself,” said Newsom. “This is about keeping you safe, about keeping them safe — your friends, neighbors and family members — and moreover, just making sure we mitigate the spread and don’t do harm and damage to the lives of those that we love. I really cannot impress upon you more, the tendency to invite friends, neighbors over that you haven’t seen is there, perhaps you’ve already done that. I hope you’ll reconsider those gatherings with people you do not live with that are not in your immediate household.”
Newsom also reiterated his often-repeated warning to avoid crowds and said that the state would do its best to discourage crowds from gathering.
“We recognize all the enforcement in this space is really just about people doing the right thing, which is the default of 99.99 percent of us. We want to do the right thing; we want to be responsible. At the same time, we want to be respective,” said Newsom. “I deeply respect people’s liberty, their desire to go back to the way things once were.”
Newsom reiterated that people’s actions to ignore health orders or refusal to wear masks in public settings have impacts on other people.
“There’s a reason in this country we require seat belts. There’s a reason in this country we require helmets when you are on a motorcycle or scooter,” said Newsom. “And that is not only to protect you but to protect others from behavior where you put yourself in a dangerous situation and you end up in the emergency room and all of a sudden someone that had the opportunity to get that emergency care can’t because that hospital is on diversion and it can’t accommodate for an increased inflow. That’s the same argument we extend to wearing face coverings, the mandate on wearing masks, a way of protecting you but also respecting others in the process.”
The governor additionally announced the state would establish multi-agency enforcement strike teams that will enforce public health orders, specifically targeting non-compliant workplaces.
“One should not have to put one’s life at risk to go to work as an essential worker,” Newsom said. “I’m not coming out with a fist. We want to come out with an open heart recognizing the magnitude of some of these modifications.”
The agencies involved include CalOSHA, Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC), the Departments of Business Oversight and Consumer Affairs and the CHP, Newsom said.
California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said the initial focus of the strike teams would be to work with local health departments and business groups to educate businesses and individuals on what is required before moving to enforcement.
“As we see non-compliance opportunities and events that are taking place, we will have these agencies and departments that the governor mentioned leverage their regulatory authorities and their enforcement authorities to enforce the public health orders that are in place throughout the state,” explained Ghilarducci.
The governor pointed out that the COVID-19 numbers continued to be troubling, with 5,898 new cases of coronavirus confirmed statewide Tuesday, and a testing positivity rate that has risen from 4.6 percent to 6 percent over a 14-day period.
The 110 people who died from the virus in the past 24 hours was the second most reported in the state on a single day since the coronavirus pandemic began. The only day with more deaths registered was April 22, with 115.
Meanwhile, hospitalizations increased by 51 percent and ICU admissions have increased by 47 percent from 14 days ago.
People who work at restaurants in the Bay Area counties affected by the orders were trying to put a positive spin on the new restrictions Wednesday.
“We were hoping for the best,” said Vanessa Mario, marketing manager at Bierhaus in Walnut Creek. “But at the same time, you know, we are fortunate to have a really great patio.”
Over in Solano County, the governor’s order means dine-in privileges have been revoked.
“Our county was actually able to do dine-in weeks ago,” said Manny Melendrez, owner of Momo’s Cafe in Vallejo. “But we waited it out.”
How cautious have they been at Momo’s? A Momo’s mask is available among the restaurant’s merchandise items. They waited on dine-in service because they wanted to make sure they were doing everything as carefully as possible.
“We just got new tables yesterday,” said Melendrez. “It was our first day opening up. And now we got the news that we’ve got to shut it back down again.”
What does a three week delay mean for him?
“Just back to just doing takeout,” Melendrez explained, adding that it will not be enough to support his business long term.
Other Vallejo restaurants had already closed ahead of today’s news, largely due to rising safety concerns there. Back in Walnut Creek, restaurant managers say this week is a reminder that uncertainty is the rule.
“So all you can really do is support your local restaurants,” said Mario. “Support what they are doing, and try to figure out a way to make it through.”
Wilson Walker contributed to this story.