California Reimposes Some COVID-19 Restrictions Ahead of Fourth of July Weekend

Newsom said 'strike forces' will help enforce his new order
July 1, 2020 Updated: July 1, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered new restrictions on indoor activities for most of the state, affecting 19 counties that are home to more than 70 percent of the state’s population—more than 27 million people.

For at least the next three weeks, indoor operations are to be closed at sectors including restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers (include bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages, and arcades), zoos, museums, and cardrooms.

Newson’s new order also affects bars and brew pubs—both indoor and outdoor—all of which must close across the 19 counties.

“Do your best not to mix with strangers, not to mingle with people outside your household,” Newsom said at a press briefing.

The 19 counties impacted by the new restrictions are: 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.

The new restrictions are part of efforts by Californian officials to reduce chances for people to gather indoors leading up to and over the Fourth of July weekend.

Ahead of the weekend, Newsom has also closed state beaches in Los Angeles and Ventura counties to mirror local public health orders. Other state beaches will stay open, but parking lots will close this weekend to limit overcrowding in Marin, Monterey, Orange, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties.

Newsom urged people planning gatherings with family and friends this weekend to reconsider.

‘Strike Forces’ to Enforce Restrictions

Newsom said that the state is setting up “strike forces” to help enforce the new order. The forces will comprise regulatory agencies and the California Highway Patrol.

“We have a responsibility at the same time to go after people that are thumbing their nose, that are being particularly aggressive,” Newsom said.

He said that most of the enforcement will be aimed at shutting down banned activities, maintaining social distancing, or at penalizing businesses owners who don’t wear masks.

Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Office of Emergency Services, said that those in the strike forces will be able to issue citations and review the licences of noncompliant businesses.

Newsom also said that California’s recently-passed budget allowed him to withhold funds from counties that don’t comply, and asked counties to enforce his new order.

A couple ride a tandem bike at Huntington Beach, Calif., on July 1, 2020. (Reuters/Mike Blake)

Hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 have been increasing in California, the most populous U.S. state, since late May. Over the previous 24 hours, 110 people have died from the disease in California, Newsom said.

Nearly half of the available intensive care beds in the state are being used by COVID-19 patients, and the rate at which residents are testing positive for the virus has risen to 6 percent over the past 14 days, up from 4.6 percent over the prior 14 days, he added.

As of late Wednesday, the state reported 232,657 confirmed cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, and 6,090 total deaths.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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