Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide end to indoor dining today, leaving local establishments such as the Coyote Bar & Grill in Graeagle to rely on outdoor seating and takeout dining. Owner Terry Moore expanded into the parking lot at the beginning of the season, in addition to his patio, to offer more seating and social distancing. Photo submitted

Statewide order to cease indoor restaurant seating

In an effort to control the spread of COVID-19 throughout California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new statewide guidance today, as well as more restrictions for 30 counties on the state’s watch list.

The guidance that will have the greatest impact locally is the closure of all indoor dining. Newsom made the announcement during his noon briefing July 13, after he expressed concern about the state’s rise in confirmed cases, as well as the increase in hospitalizations and ICU cases, as well as another increase in the positivity rate.

“We are moving back into the modification phase,” he said.

According to the new guidance, effective July 13, ALL counties must close indoor operations in these sectors:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters
  • Family entertainment centers (for example: bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages and arcades)
  • Zoos and museums
  • Cardrooms

Additionally, bars, brewpubs, breweries, and pubs must close all operations both indoor and outdoor statewide. The news will no doubt leave local businesses scrambling, as they must revert to takeout orders only or outdoor seating if it’s available.

Counties that have remained on the County Monitoring List for three consecutive days will be required to shut down the following industries or activities unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up.

  • Fitness centers
  • Worship services
  • Protests
  • Offices for non-essential sectors
  • Personal care services, like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Malls

Gov. Newsom said that involves 30-plus counties representing 80 percent of the state’s population. Those counties include Colusa, Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernadino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, Ventura, Yolo and Yuba. (Alameda is expected to be added tomorrow.)

The governor addressed the rise in cases and hospitalizations in more rural counties, such as Placer, Lake and Butte, saying he worried about their capacity. “There are ICU bed constraints,” he said.

In the coming days, Newsom said he would be addressing testing as well as therapeutic remedies for coronavirus. He said that coronavirus isn’t taking a summer vacation and “COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon.”

He said while it is unlikely a vaccine would be available at scale in the immediate term, he said that he was optimistic about therapeutic drugs that could impact not only the mortality, but the morbidity rate of the disease.

In the meantime, he once again reiterated the need to wear a mask, to practice social distancing and to wash hands.

Newsom said countries that mandate nationwide mask wearing have had much better results than what the United States is experiencing.

The mask wearing and social distancing are particularly important as “more and more people are going from one county to another,” Newsom said. He noted that the state had been successful in suppressing the growth initially and it needed to be accomplished again.

Schools

During the questioning session following the governor’s briefing, he was asked about schools. “If indoor activities aren’t safe” then how can schools be allowed to reopen to in-class learning?

Newsom said the state has issued guidelines, but added more guidance would be forthcoming. He said that children’s health was “non-negotiable” as was the absolute need to “educate our children.” He commended Los Angeles and San Diego school district leadership for announcing that their districts would resume with distance learning this school year. He also reiterated the commitment that has been made to “knock down the digital divide” that hampered distance learning opportunities for some students. The new state budget contain $5.3 billion to procure assets to allow for distance learning.

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