As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in 19 California counties, including San Joaquin and Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday reinstated restrictions on indoor businesses, including restaurants, and ordered all bars closed.
All counties that have been on the state’s monitoring list for more than three days are ordered to shutter bars entirely. Additionally, all restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, zoos, museums, cardrooms, and family entertainment centers such as batting cages and arcades must cease all indoor operations.
Businesses that are able to may offer pickup or limited outside operations under the state order.
The closures are likely to remain in place for at least three weeks.
San Joaquin County has been on the list since June 10. Sacramento County was added to the list on Friday.
“The bottom line is the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,” Newsom said in a press conference on Wednesday. “We’re seeing parts of the state where we are seeing an increase in not only the total number of positive cases, but a significant increase in the total number of people who are getting tested who are testing positive.”
Aside from bar closures, Newsom emphasized that the new restrictions only apply to indoor operations. He cited evidence from the U.S. and around the world that spending extended time in enclosed, indoor spaces increased the risk of spreading the virus.
The state Department of Public Health has worked with county health departments to develop new guidelines for those counties on the monitoring list for more than three consecutive days.
Newsom called on Californians to take steps such as wearing masks and take personal responsibility to do their part to stop the spread.
The state will also create a team including CalOSHA, the Department of Business Oversight, the Department of Consumer Affairs, Alcohol Beverage Control and other state agencies to aide with enforcement of the guidelines, with a focus on education.
The state did reserve the right to withdraw funding from counties that do not help with enforcement in cases of repeat offenders, Newsom said.
Lodi leaders and business owners were disappointed by the news, but understanding.
“Hopefully, it is only for three weeks,” said Pat Patrick, president and CEO of the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce.
The partial closures will be economically difficult for local restaurants, he said, especially those with limited or no outdoor space. They once again need to decide whether the cost of staying open to offer takeout or seat a handful of outdoor tables is worth it.
An additional challenge is that restaurants that only recently reopened may now have a fridge and freezer full of perishable ingredients, he said.
For Pete Murdaca, owner of Pietro’s Trattoria in Lodi, it’s a disappointing setback.
“It’s just an ever-evolving situation, and we’re going to evolve with it,” he said.
He and his crew have been social distancing. Employees test regularly, and sick employees are sent home, he said. They’ll continue to do that, even if they’ll have to move dining outdoors.
Pietro’s will be moving to dinner-only service starting on Monday, and takeout will be available.
The hardest part, Murdaca said, will be having to temporarily lay off some employees so soon after bringing them back.
“They understand, but I think a lot of them want to be here,” he said.
The City of Lodi had planned to reopen its offices, along with Lodi Lake Beach and a few other parks facilities, but those reopenings will now be delayed, city spokesman Jeff Hood said. City council meetings may also return to an online format.
Newsom has asked cities to postpone or cancel their fireworks shows for the Fourth of July, which Lodi and Galt had already done, Hood said.
“Hopefully we can provide a fireworks show to the public later this year,” he said — perhaps as a celebration once the pandemic eases.
Though indoor business is off the table for at least a few weeks, the Lodi Chamber has been working behind the scenes to create a Safety & Cleanliness Pledge campaign. The program encourages local businesses to follow health and safety guidelines issued by the state and county, as well as giving local residents who are at risk of complications from COVID-19 a resource for finding safe places to do their shopping and other errands.
One woman who spoke to Patrick recently told him that she’d gone to a store, only to see that few of the employees or other customers were wearing masks and hand sanitizer was not available. Since she is in a high-risk group and her husband is a cancer survivor, she simply turned and walked out, she told Patrick.
“We want to get it across to businesses that there are a lot of people out there like her,” he said.
Any business can take the pledge, not just members of the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce. Those who do promise to abide by state and local health and safety recommendations and guidelines will be included in the listing the chamber is putting together.
For more information or to sign up, visit www.lodichamber.com and click on “Take the Pledge.”
However, one Lodi business has decided waiting out the pandemic is just not in the cards.
After 18 years in Downtown Lodi, Rosewood Bar & Grill will close permanently.
“With the uncertainty of what the future holds, it is time to close this chapter,” managing member Russ Munson said in a press release on Wednesday.
In addition to the indoor business ban, the state is working with tribal governments throughout California on shutting down or modifying casino operations, and has closed parking lots at a number of state beaches and state parks through the July 4 weekend.
“If we want to be independent from COVID-19, we have to be much more vigilant in terms of maintaining our physical distancing from others,” Newsom said.
He asked Californians to avoid large crowds and gatherings, and be careful to wear masks to reduce the spread. The state will be taking steps to mitigate large gatherings, he said.
“I deeply respect people’s liberty, their desire to go back to the way things once were, but I cannot impress upon you more, our actions have an impact on other people,” he said.
San Joaquin County has seen a sharp spike in cases since June 10. That day, the county had reported a total of 1,195 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 55 cases in Lodi.
On Wednesday, the county had recorded a total of 3,914 confirmed cases, with more than 1,400 cases from the past 14 days alone. More than 200 of those new cases were in the two Lodi ZIP codes.
A total of 142 people were hospitalized throughout the county with confirmed COVID-19 on Wednesday. In order to be removed from the monitoring list, the county must have no more than 20 patients in the hospital at one time, and 190 or fewer new cases over a 14-day period.
On June 10, Sacramento County reported 1,624 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 20 in Galt. On Wednesday, that county had 3,397 total cases, with 123 in Galt.
The other counties included in the order are Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura.
For more information, visit covid19.ca.gov.