California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered bars and restaurants in 19 counties to close their indoor dining options for at least three weeks, as the state faces increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases and residents plan for the busy July 4 weekend.
The state saw 5,898 new cases on Tuesday, Newsom said during a noon press conference, adding that 110 deaths linked to the virus were reported in the 24 hours leading up to the announcement.
The order applies in 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 counties.
Those counties were placed on the state’s new County Watchlist for more than three weeks. The list was created for those that show increased numbers of new cases and hospitalizations due to Covid-19.
While neither Sonoma nor Napa counties are affected by the closure order, Newsom also announced that the state is closing parking facilities at state beaches in Southern California and the Bay Area.
“I want to remind everyone that if we want to be independent from Covid-19, we have to be much more vigilant in terms of maintaining our physical distancing from others, and be much more vigilant as it relates to the prospects of being in situations where are transmitting Covid-19,” Newsom said.
Face masks are still required statewide for most indoor activities, however, and social distancing is either required or strongly encouraged in most places.
Newsom did not discuss statewide face mask requirements during the press conference, after hinting Tuesday that he would require local jurisdictions to step up their enforcement. He also indicated that the state has the financial resources to do so.
“We have conditioned $2.5 billion in our state budget on applying the spirit and the letter of the law as it relates to health directives at the county level,” Newsom said. “If local officials are unwilling to enforce and are being dismissive, we will condition the distribution of those dollars.”
Newsom also urged that residents refrain from holding family gatherings, which he said was one of the likely causes of the surge in new cases.
“This is about keeping you safe, 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,” Newsom said.
The new restrictions, Newsom said, will be enforced by a “multi-agency strike team” made up of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the Department of Business Oversight, the Department of Consumer Affairs and the California Highway Patrol.
Violators could face fines, but most people will likely comply with the new restrictions, Newsom said.
“I’m not coming out with a fist,” he said. “We want to come out with an open heart, recognizing the magnitude of some of these modifications.”