As the number of coronavirus cases continues to spike across the state, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered tighter stay-at-home orders, including the closure of indoor operations of certain businesses that had previously been allowed to reopen.
“The bottom line is, the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,'' Newsom said from Sacramento. “We're seeing parts of the state where we are seeing an increase not only in the total number of positive cases but a significant increase in the total number of people that are getting tested that are testing positive, meaning the positivity rate, not just the total case rate, is beginning to go up to a degree that obviously generates some concern.''
Nineteen counties that are currently on the state's COVID-19 monitoring list will need to close indoor operations ahead of the holiday weekend, Newsom said. Those include: restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, and cardrooms.
"This doesn't mean restaurants shut down, it means we're trying to take many activities, these concentrated activities, and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus,'' Newsom said.
The governor also expanded the closure of all bars in counties that are on the state's watch list, as most of Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties were ordered to do so on Sunday.
Newsom did not close all beaches in the state, but he did order that all parking facilities at state beaches in Southern California to be closed over the holiday weekend. State beaches in counties that have already closed their local beaches, will also close, like in Los Angeles County.
Newsom also urged the counties on the watch list to consider cancelling all fireworks shows over the upcoming Fourth of July weekend in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus. Los Angeles County has already canceled all fireworks shows that were scheduled for the weekend.
Newsom also announced the creation of Multi-Agency Strike Teams that will crack down on businesses in the state that are operating in violation of local and state health orders. Some of the agencies involved in the effort include the CHP, Department of Consumer Affairs and Department of Business Oversight. The team's primary mission will be to get business owners to voluntarily comply with the health orders.
“When we talk about compliance, this isn't just talking about mask compliance, this is talking about heath and safety in our meat-packing facilities,'' he said. “One should not have to put their life at risk to go to work as an essential worker.
“... It's more education. I'm not coming out with a fist. We want to come out with an open heart, recognize the magnitude of these modifications ... and what it means to small businessmen and women, what it means to communities, what it means to the economic vibrancy and health of our state, and in turn our nation.''
Counties that fall short in enforcing the state health orders will also run the risk of losing state funding, Newsom said.
He also warned residents to avoid public gatherings over the next few days, even family gatherings and urged everyone to wear face coverings and practice social distancing in public.
Photo: Getty Images, California Gov's Office