California closes bars and indoor dining at restaurants after COVID-19 spike

The governor of California has announced more measures to combat the surge in coronavirus after another record-breaking day of cases in America’s most populous state.

Gavin Newsom confirmed that indoor activities at restaurants, wineries, cinemas, family entertainment centres, zoos and museums would be banned for the next three weeks.

Bars were ordered to close both indoor and outdoor operations.

Los Angeles County has seen a spike in cases
Image:Los Angeles County has seen a spike in cases

The order applies to 19 of California’s 58 counties but they make up more than 70% of the state’s population.

Many of California’s beaches will be closed for the Independence Day weekend, but Mr Newsom says he is concerned that people will still be gathering for what is traditionally America’s biggest party weekend.

He said: “A survey of public health officials identified their top concern as intimate gatherings where extended and immediate family members begin to mix and start to take down their guard.”

“Please don’t take your guard down,” he urged.

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Mr Newsom has also vowed to step up enforcement on establishments not taking the rules seriously. Half of bars and a third of restaurants have been found to not be enforcing social distancing protocols.

California, along with Texas, Florida and Arizona, has become the new epicentre of the US coronavirus outbreak.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in California rose by 8,441 on Tuesday, according to a Reuters news agency tally – the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.

Beaches are ordered to close for the Independence Day weekend
Image:Beaches will be closed for the Independence Day weekend

Officials in the state had been credited with acting early to issue stay-at-home orders during the pandemic but the re-opening plan has been derailed by the resurgence in cases.

And in Los Angeles County, which has seen a dramatic spike in cases in recent days, one mayor has criticised the move to close the beaches for the weekend.

Suzanne Hadley, mayor of the city of Manhattan Beach, said: “I think everyone agrees on a few things.”

Suzanne Hadley, mayor of the city of Manhattan Beach
Image:Suzanne Hadley, mayor of the city of Manhattan Beach

“We agree that the young and healthy are least likely to get COVID, we agree COVID is least likely to be transmitted outdoors and we know that the beach is a wide-open space with lots of social distancing.

“To my mind it does not make a lot of sense to close the beaches where the young and the healthy go to gather.”

Although young and healthy people are much less likely to die from coronavirus, several studies and experts – including the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield – have suggested that younger people have helped fuel the increase in COVID-19 infections.

Locals heading for the beach before the new lockdown takes effect on Friday also disagreed with Ms Hadley.

“I feel that because the numbers are going up and more and more people are realising that they aren’t dropping, closing the beach and the pier is another wake-up call for us,” said Olivia Apodaca.

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Chris Howard said the closure should have come sooner.

“Why not yesterday? Why not today? Why Friday?” he said. “Some people are really conscientious and mask up but as each day goes by fewer people are being considerate.

“They’re not scared any more and they ought to be. It’s a big deal.”

US deaths could be 28% higher than official figures, warns study

US deaths could be 28% higher than official figures, warns study

Public health officials believe one contributing factor to the surge in cases is the large number of social gatherings that took place on America’s big holiday weekend, Memorial Day, at the end of May.

But businesses believe the rapid reversal of re-openings will be devastating for the economy.

Bill Cotter owns Manhattan Shoe Repair
Image:Bill Cotter owns Manhattan Shoe Repair

Bill Cotter, whose family has owned Manhattan Shoe Repair for more than 80 years, said: “You can’t burn down your house because you’ve got termites. That’s not the answer.

“When you close things down for six or eight weeks, people have to have a way to make a living and they have to have a purpose in life.”

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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