California is moving quickly to reclose some sectors of its economy that have only been open for a few weeks as the coronavirus continues to spike in the state.
Gov. Gavin Newsom during a daily tele-briefing ordered the immediate closure of certain businesses with indoor spaces, including dining in restaurants, movie theaters and museums, in 19 counties that have seen positive cases of the novel coronavirus rise in recent days. The counties account for more than 70 percent of the state’s population and include Los Angeles and Orange counties, as well as Santa Clara County.
“The bottom line is the spread of this virus is continuing at a rate that is particularly concerning,” Newsom said of the decision, which he alluded to on Tuesday.
The governor also expanded a closure of bars in seven counties enacted on Sunday to all 19 counties that have been ordered to stop most indoor business.
In-store shopping and retail remains open, but an industry source said talks with state officials and local officials in Los Angeles are ongoing and a reclosure of in-store retail is a possibility should COVID-19 cases not start to fall soon.
The California Retailers Association responded to the reversal of the reopening by urging all businesses and people to follow mandates on face coverings and social distancing in public and in stores.
“Our members are committed to working with the governor’s office and local governments up and down the state to provide local leaders, businesses and their communities with safe shopping guidelines,” the CRA said. “It is imperative that we continue to protect the health and viability of not only each other, but our economy.”
A number of states have started to reverse their reopenings, including Arizona, Texas and Florida — the latter two among the first states to fully reopen several weeks ago. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, North Carolina and others have paused reopenings as virus cases rise dramatically in nearly every state, many of whose numbers have reached records every day for the last week.
Newsom clarified that California businesses like restaurants, which in L.A. have only been allowed to open for two weeks and most other counties only three weeks, are not being ordered fully shut down. Rather, the pullback on the reopening is “targeted” at specific indoor situations.
“We’re trying to take out as many mixed, concentrated activities as we can and move them outdoors to mitigate this virus,” Newsom said.
But even outdoor activity is being affected for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend. California is not outright closing state beaches again, but it is closing parking facilities to all state beaches in an effort to prevent crowding. Newsom is also recommending that counties cancel firework displays, which normally draw crowds.
It was just last week the governor struck a very different tone on the possibility of reversing the state’s reopening, despite an increase in daily coronavirus cases. “I think we move forward more safely and work our way through this without having to toggle back,” he said then.
But on Tuesday, California added another 5,900 positive cases. The positivity rate for the last two weeks is 6 percent, up from 4.6 percent in the previous period, showing a spread of the virus that is not accounted for by an increase in testing. Hospitalizations are up to nearly 5,200 people, compared to roughly 3,400 two weeks ago, an increase of 51 percent.
“California, unlike some other states, we were successful in bending the curve and we will be successful in bending this new curve,” Newsom said, the first time he’s referred to the new rise in cases in such a way.