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Health and Medicine

Restaurants, Movie Theaters And More Must Stop Indoor Operations In 19 California Counties

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Andrew Nixon.CapRadio
New spikes in cases of COVID-19 have led to state mandates that now prohibit indoor activities at restaurants, movie theaters, museums and more in 19 hard-hit California counties.

California is mandating that bars close and indoor activities stop at restaurants, movie theaters and museums in 19 counties hardest-hit by a surge of new COVID-19 cases.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the order as public health officials attempt to slow the spread of the virus before a critical holiday weekend.

The new rules mandate certain businesses stop indoor operations — including dine-in restaurants, wineries, museums and movie theaters — for all counties that have been on the state watchlist for more than three days. The closures will last for at least three weeks.

Those 19 counties cover 72% of California residents, and the list includes Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.

Under the new order, the following business must stop indoor activities:

  • Indoor dine-in restaurants
  • Indoor wineries and tasting rooms
  • Indoor family entertainment centers
  • Indoor movie theaters
  • Indoor zoos and museums
  • Indoor cardrooms

All brewpubs, breweries, bars and pubs in these counties must also close immediately, both indoor and outdoor operations.

The closures will affect these 19 counties:

  • Contra Costa
  • Fresno
  • Glenn
  • Imperial
  • Kern
  • Kings
  • Los Angeles
  • Merced
  • Orange
  • Riverside
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Joaquin
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Clara
  • Solano
  • Stanislaus
  • Tulare
  • Ventura

The new restrictions come as California has reported jumps in both cases and hospitalizations over the past few weeks, including more than 6,000 newly confirmed cases on Monday and another 5,898 on Tuesday.

More than 6,000 Californians have now died from the disease.

On Sunday, state health officials mandated the closure of bars in seven counties — including Los Angeles and San Joaquin — and recommended closures in eight others. Sacramento County announced it would close bars this week following the state recommendation. Local health officials have pointed to bars and family gatherings as drivers of the cases.

The changes also come as Californians prepare for the Fourth of July weekend, and health officials worry about a further surge in cases.

"This weekend is going to make a big difference in terms of whether we start bending the curve back again or we exponentially increase our cases," Sacramento County Director of Health Services Peter Beilenson said on CapRadio's Insight Wednesday morning. "It's really, really crucial — for this holiday weekend especially — that we not congregate."

Newsom said the state would not be closing beaches, but modifying parking areas near beaches. Some counties, including Los Angeles, have already closed beaches for the holiday weekend.

The governor also asked counties with mandatory closures to consider canceling fireworks displays and other Fourth of July events.

Last week Newsom asked several counties to reinstate stay-at-home orders entirely as cases continue to rise across the state. The state mandated residents wear masks in most public settings starting June 18.

While testing has increased in the state, the number of new cases has outpaced the rise in tests. Newsom said the state positivity rate over the past 14 days — the percentage of tests that are positive for COVID-19 — has risen to 6% from 4.6% two weeks ago.

In that time, hospitalizations increased 51% and ICU admissions increased 47%. Newsom said the state has substantial hospital bed capacity, although some counties, such as Riverside, are feeling pinched.

An NPR/Harvard study showed that California needs to double the number of tests it's currently conducting in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Copyright 2020 CapRadio