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In throwing an “emergency brake,” Gov. Gavin Newsom orders an even broader mask mandate and further restricts access to businesses, restaurants and other operations for the vast majority of Californians.
As California’s COVID-19 daily case count climbed to nearly 10,000 – a height not seen since early August – Gov. Gavin Newsom today announced tough new restrictions as an “emergency brake” to slow a coming surge that could overwhelm hospitals during the holiday season.
Most nonessential businesses, restaurants, bars and places of worship will have to close or severely restrict their operations, starting Tuesday, as state officials either moved or kept 40 of California’s 58 counties in the most restrictive “purple” tier of the state’s reopening plan. The dramatic change will affect about 94% of Californians.
“We’re moving from a marathon to a sprint,” Newsom said at a news conference. “These last 10 days have been challenging. We need to be more aggressive, more surgical, more targeted.”
Newsom also announced a tougher – but simpler – mask mandate: Californians must wear a mask whenever they’re outside their homes, with a few exceptions. People don’t have to wear masks in their cars, working in an office or room alone, or when they’re outside and farther than six feet from other people. However, they need to carry a mask and put it on when they are closer than six feet to others.
The previous mandate, announced in June, required people to wear masks in all indoor public spaces and when they would be in close proximity to others, such as on mass transit. Recent studies show that masks can protect not only others but the wearer from some droplets carrying the novel coronavirus.
Source: California Department of Public Health
Newsom also noted that a statewide curfew is being considered and that more restrictions may be coming later this week. Yet he injected a note of optimism about forthcoming COVID-19 vaccines, citing biotechnology firm Moderna Inc.’s announcement today that its experimental coronavirus vaccine appears to be nearly 95% effective in a preliminary analysis.
The news on the ground was much bleaker for state officials nationwide who are grappling with surging COVID-19 caseloads of their own.
In some California counties, test positivity and case rates have spiked so dramatically they were pushed back two tiers. Counties entering a more restrictive tier must make changes immediately—no more three-day grace periods for businesses that had reopened.
California follows other states that recently have tightened rules amid rising case numbers. Over the weekend, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington prohibited indoor operations in restaurants and gyms, and banned indoor gatherings unless people quarantined for 14 days prior to the gathering.
Oregon implemented a “freeze” order for two weeks, which means most indoor operations must shut down, and Michigan also announced new restrictions for three weeks.