Amid surging COVID-19 transmission rates, California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered the closure of dine-in restaurant service and movie theaters in Los Angeles County and 18 other counties for three weeks.
Newsom announced the closures Wednesday, two days ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, at his daily news conference in Sacramento. He also said local officials should cancel fireworks shows, which are already prohibited in LA County. LA County had not yet reopened movie theaters, just drive-ins.
Newsom also said other indoor operations that will need to close in the 19 counties — which have been on the state’s “watch list” and are home to 70% of the state’s 40 million residents — include card rooms, zoos and museums. Restaurants remain allowed to offer food for pick-up or delivery.
“This doesn’t mean restaurants are shut down,” Newsom said. “It means that we’re trying to take the activities, as many activities as we can — these mixed activities, these concentrated activities — and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus.”
Newsom had allowed Los Angeles County to reopen dine-in restaurants on May 29. But he warned on June 29 that he was contemplating reversing course on reopenings in Los Angeles County and six other counties due to high transmission rates of COVID-19. On the same day, Los Angeles County officials ordered beaches and bike paths closed for the Fourth of July weekend.
Newsom noted that 110 Californians had died of COVID-19 on Tuesday as part of a plea to continue observing the state guidelines.
In the past 24 hours in California, 110 people died as a result of COVID-19 with 5,898 new cases recorded and a 6% positivity rate over the past 14 days from 4.4%. The positivity rate — the number of people who have tested positive among the total number of tests administered — has gone up to 6.4% over the past seven days.
“Please disabuse yourself that people are no longer dying,” Newsom said. “Please do not take your guard down.”
Newsom ordered bars to close in Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin, and Tulare counties three days ago and noted earlier in the week that the state’s positivity rate — the number of people who have tested positive among the total number of tests administered — has gone up from 4.4% two weeks ago to 5.5% on Monday. Hospitalizations have surged 43% in the past two weeks.
California had 42 of its 518 movie theater locations open for business last weekend, according to Comscore. The nation’s three largest chains — AMC, Cinemark and Regal — recently announced they had shifted back opening dates until the end of July amid increasing COVID-19 cases. Comscore reported Wednesday that there are 1,173 open theaters nationwide, including 275 driveins.
Los Angeles County reported Wednesday that it continues to see steep increases in community spread of COVID-19 with 2,002 new cases of COVID-19 — the fourth consecutive day of more than 2,000 new cases — and 35 new deaths. The Department of Public Health has identified 105,507 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, and a total of 3,402 deaths.
Besides Los Angeles, the 18 counties affected by Newsom’s new order are Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura.