SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered 19 counties with surging coronavirus outbreaks to close indoor restaurants, wineries, movie theaters and other venues Wednesday, saying California must act to keep the pandemic from spiraling out of control.
Newsom said the state has directed counties on its “watch list” — those with spiking numbers of new cases and hospitalizations — to reimpose parts of stay-at-home orders that had been lifted starting in May, when California appeared to have flattened the curve of infections. His directive came as the state warned that the virus could spread from family gatherings on the Fourth of July weekend.
In the Bay Area, the list includes Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Solano counties.
It’s the most far-reaching in a series of recent steps the state has taken since last week, when it became clear that coronavirus infections were spreading in many parts of California. Last week, Newsom told Imperial County it needed to reimpose its stay-at-home order, and on Sunday he ordered bars in six other counties to shut down.
“We’ve seen increased activity where people simply aren’t able to practice social distancing,” Newsom said at a briefing. “When we talk about this dimmer switch, it’s not an on-and-off switch. It’s based upon local conditions.”
His order requires restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, family entertainment centers, movie theaters, museums, zoos and cardrooms in the 19 counties to halt indoor operations for at least three weeks. The affected establishments are allowed to operate outdoors, such as restaurant patios.
Newsom also ordered the full closure of all bars and breweries in the 19 counties, both indoor and outdoor operations.
Combined, the 19 counties include nearly three-fourths of California’s population. Besides the Bay Area counties, they include Los Angeles, Orange, Sacramento, Stanislaus, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Merced, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties.
Newsom’s order doesn’t apply to six other Bay Area counties, but he hinted that could change in the coming days.
“I expect that based upon the current trends, that there will be a number of additional counties in the Bay Area,” he said. “There’s likely to be four additional counties that soon come on that list.”
Some of the Bay Area counties that are affected by the governor’s order have not opened many of the types of establishments that Newsom mentioned. For example, Santa Clara County has not yet reopened indoor dining and bars. Contra Costa County had already delayed a reopening that had been set for Wednesday.
Solano County has moved more quickly, having allowed indoor dining starting in May.
Besides the indoor-business shutdown, California said it would close parking lots at state beaches from Monterey to Sonoma counties for the holiday weekend.
State Parks Director Lisa Mangat said people should celebrate the Fourth of July “differently this year” and avoid road trips to state parks and beaches.
“Now more than ever, it’s up to all of us to recreate responsibly to protect our loved ones and our communities,” she said in a statement.
Newsom implored Californians to practice social distancing and wear masks as they mingle and travel for the holiday. He said people must “disabuse” themselves of any notion that people have stopped dying of COVID-19, noting that statewide, Tuesday’s toll was 110.
“Let’s do our best to meet this moment, as we met the moment many months ago and bent the curve again the first time,” he said. “Let’s do it again.”
On Tuesday, the state recorded 7,820 new cases — its second-highest tally in a 24-hour period — and surpassed 6,000 deaths. The state reported 5,898 new cases on Wednesday.
Alarming updates about the virus’ toll continue to mount: San Francisco announced Tuesday that the city has seen a 49% spike in hospitalizations over the last week as patients from San Quentin State Prison and hard-hit rural Imperial County were transferred to city hospitals.
Newsom’s administration began allowing counties in May to move ahead on reopening businesses including indoor restaurants and shopping malls if they hit benchmarks in slowing the spread of the virus and creating capacity to contain a surge.
Most of California’s 58 counties have allowed some nonessential businesses to reopen, although the pace has been slower in the Bay Area than elsewhere.
In recent days, however, some of those efforts have been reversed — several counties have closed bars again, and San Francisco, Marin, Alameda and Contra Costa counties all pulled back on plans to let gyms and hair salons reopen.