Californians were spotted panic-buying and enjoying a last supper out before a month-long nighttime curfew that started Saturday as surging coronavirus cases threaten to swamp health care systems.
However Tesla factory workers in the state will be exempt from new restrictions because they are considered essential, after CEO Elon Musk feuded with authorities over an earlier shutdown.
The newest restrictions require people to stay home from 10pm to 5am unless they are responding to an emergency, shopping for groceries, picking up takeout or walking their dogs. The month-long curfew could be extended if rapidly worsening trends don’t improve.
‘The limited stay-at-home order does not apply to employees deemed essential workers – manufacturing is listed as an essential workforce,’ said California’s Department of Public Health, specifying in particular transport products and equipment.
The exemption will allow Tesla’s auto assembly plant to avoid a new curfew across much of California while continuing to abide by a health plan already in place.
The curfew applies to 41 of the state’s 58 counties that are in the ‘purple’ tier, the most restrictive of four state tiers allowing various stages of economic reopening. Those counties encompass 94 per cent of the nearly 40 million people living in the most populous U.S. state. The curfew will remain in place through December 21.
California has seen more than 1 million infections, with a record of almost 15,500 new cases reported Friday. There have been 18,643 deaths in the state.
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Last minute shopping: People buy toilet papers and paper towels at a Costco Wholesale store in Alhambra, California on Saturday
Stocking up: People stand in line at a Costco in Alhambra, California, ahead of the new curfew
A general view of boarded-up shops along 5th Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego before the curfew begins Saturday
The curfew applies to 41 of the state’s 58 counties that are in the ‘purple’ tier, the most restrictive of four state tiers allowing various stages of economic reopening. people dine in San Diego on Saturday above
People dine along 5th Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego before the new curfew on Saturday
People dine along Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach, San Diego before the new curfew rules begin on Saturday
Authorities say the focus is on keeping people from social mixing and drinking – the kinds of activities that are blamed for causing COVID-19 infections to soar after dipping only a few months ago.
In May, Musk (pictured) feuded with authorities over the reopening of the California plant and threatened to move his headquarters and future projects to Texas or Nevada.
In May, Musk feuded with authorities over the reopening of the California plant and threatened to move his headquarters and future projects to Texas or Nevada.
He at one point announced the restart of production on Twitter and challenged authorities to stop him.
Last month, Tesla said profits in the previous quarter more than doubled as the electric car giant forecast deliveries hitting 500,000 this year.
Los Angeles County, the state´s largest with about 10 million people, could see even more stringent lockdowns as early as next week as its caseload and hospitalization figures reach stratospheric levels.
The county accounts for a quarter of the state’s 40 million residents, but it has about a third of the coronavirus cases and close to 40 per cent of the deaths.
California as a whole has seen more than 1 million infections, with a record of almost 15,500 new cases reported Friday. There have been 18,643 deaths in the state
Final catch? Night-fishing will not be permitted under the new curfew. People fish off the Ocean Beach pier in San Diego on Saturday before the new rules begin
A waiter wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) returns a credit card to a customer dining outdoors in Manhattan Beach, California, Saturday, a few hours before the start of the new 10pm to 5am curfew
California as a whole has seen more than 1 million infections, with a record of almost 15,500 new cases reported Friday. There have been 18,643 deaths in the state. Pictured: people dine at Manhattan Beach before the curfew
Pedestrians wear face masks while walking past retail stores and outdoor dining in Manhattan Beach, California, Saturday
Authorities say the focus is on keeping people from social mixing and drinking – the kinds of activities that are blamed for causing COVID-19 infections to soar after dipping only a few months ago. Pictured: People dining in Manhattan Beach Saturday
Hitting the beach: People gather to play volleyball on the beach in Manhattan Beach, California, Saturday, just a few hours before the new curfew
Walkies: Pedestrians wearing face masks walk past the ‘Light Gate’ art installation in Manhattan Beach, California before the new curfew
County public health Director Barbara Ferrer said Friday that the county had 4,272 new cases in a single day and 13,247 over the past three days. The rate of positive COVID-19 tests has jumped to 7.3 per cent, and nearly 1,300 people have been hospitalized.
‘We´re seeing cases increase at a faster rate than we saw over the summer,’ Ferrer said. ‘The data looks really bad now and we´ve had … three terrible days in terms of case rates and increases in hospitalizations.’
Officials hope to avoid full-on lockdown orders of the kind enacted back when the COVID-19 pandemic was gaining steam in March. Public health officials since then have reacted to swings in infection rates by easing and then reinforcing various stay-at-home orders in an effort to balance safety and the economy.
The result, however, has been confusion and what some health officials term ‘COVID fatigue’ in which people simply become tired of the rules and let down their guard.
Health officials acknowledge that the curfew will help flatten the infection rates only if people heed it voluntarily. Violators could face fines or be charged with a misdemeanor, and businesses could have their business licenses revoked. But counties are mainly responsible for enforcement.
A restaurant employee cleans a plexiglass table divider in Manhattan Beach, California,on Saturday as the sun sets before the new curfew
Workers at Tesla’s factory in Alameda County in California have been exempted from a new curfew because they are deemed essential. A file photo of the factory is seen above
Officials in El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange, Placer, Sacramento, San Bernardino and Stanislaus counties were among those saying they would not enforce the curfew, with some strongly opposed.
‘I think it’s unlawful and unconstitutional. The government has stripped us of our civil rights, using the virus to do that,’ said Alan Hostetter, who organized a curfew-breaking protest in San Clemente set for 10:01 p.m. He said several similar protests were planned across the state Saturday night.
In Huntington Beach, a restaurant owner who has been denouncing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders since March said he will open an hour past the curfew.
Pushback on COVID-19 rules also came from groups representing thousands of fitness centers. Most gyms in the state have closed or are limited to outdoors.
The California Fitness Alliance said the Newsom administration is using ‘arbitrary criteria that defy both science and common sense … to determine the level of risk at which businesses must close, causing thousands of Californians in the fitness field to lose their jobs.’
West Hollywood, famously known for its clubs and vibrant LGBT community, ‘will be impacted like no other city’ by the curfew, Mayor Lindsey Horvath said.
‘These businesses have created places, safe places for our LGBT community to go out in particular, to enjoy our nightlife, to be together in community,’ Horvath said. ‘It’s terribly heartbreaking to see what´s happening right now.’
The curfew even could be counterproductive, said Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health.
Officials in London who tried a similar approach found that ‘if anything, for the young people it may have increased their social gathering activities,’ he said. ‘They can´t go out, so they congregate in somebody´s home or dormitories.’
‘I´m not sure how effective this is going to be,’ Riley said. ‘But the state feels that they have to do something. I think it´s going to be mostly a cosmetic effect and not so much a real impact on interrupting this transmission.’
The new stay-at-home order comes as Newsom continues to weather sharp criticism for attending a birthday dinner at The French Laundry, a Michelin star restaurant in Napa Valley. Photos of the dinner were obtained by Fox 11 LA via a Twitter user
Photos of the gathering on November 6 were released last Saturday, showing Gov Newsom and his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom sitting at a table surrounded by at least 10 friends, none of them wearing masks
The new stay-at-home order comes as Gov Gavin Newsom continues to weather sharp criticism for attending a birthday dinner at The French Laundry, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Napa Valley, just days before advising Californians not to host indoor Thanksgiving dinners.
Photos of the gathering on November 6 were released last Saturday, showing the governor and his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom sitting at a table surrounded by at least 10 friends, none of them wearing masks.
NEWSOM’S THANKSGIVING RULES
- Three households mixing at a maximum
- No longer than 2 hours together
- All festivities must be outdoors; people ‘can go indoors to use the bathroom’
- Hosts must take information for contact tracing
It was a 50th birthday party for Jason Kinney, one of Newsom’s political advisers, and witnesses from the restaurant say that at one stage, the doors were closed so the group was completely inside.
Two top officials at the California Medical Association – CEO Dustin Corcoran and Senior Vice President Janus Norman – were also among those in attendance. The CMA represents 50,000 doctors in the nation’s most populous state and has recently tweeted messages including #StayHome and #WearAMask.
‘The dinner was held in accordance with state and county guidelines,’ CMA spokesman Anthony York told the Associated Press in an emailed statement Tuesday.
The CMA is considered a lobbying powerhouse in Sacramento. Last year, the organization spent $2.1million lobbying state leaders.
This year, CMA successfully lobbied Newsom and the Democratic supermajority in the state legislature not to slash Medi-Cal reimbursement rates funded by a 2016 tax on tobacco, according to POLITICO.
Before the photos emerged, Newsom apologized for the outing and said he should not have gone and should be setting a better example. He also claimed he did not know how many people would be there.
‘I made a bad mistake. should have stood up and … drove back to my house. The spirit of what I’m preaching all the time was contradicted. I need to preach and practice, not just preach.
‘You have to own it, and you have to be forthright and I’m doing my best every single day in trying to model better behavior,’ he said.