To curb the growing number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in California, Governor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that the state plans to announce stricter enforcement of the health standards on Wednesday as the weekend of 4 nears. of July.
However, he did not specify what those new rules might look like.
“Tomorrow we are going to make some additional announcements about efforts to use that dimmer switch we’ve been talking about and start changing our order to stay home and tune things up,” Newsom said at a press conference in Pittsburg. “Our framework is this: if you’re not going to stay home and you’re not going to wear masks in public, we have to enforce it. And we will, and we will make announcements about the app tomorrow. ”
On Monday, fearing large crowds on the shoreline over the holiday weekend, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors announced that the beaches of that county would be closed at the time.
When specifically asked if he was going to close beaches more widely in other parts of California on Independence Day, Newsom differed.
“Obviously we are analyzing the transmission and diffusion problems of the community in all sectors of our economy, among which are the problems and concerns about the activities that will take place this weekend,” he said.
Newsom specifically mentioned that indoor family gatherings, such as cookouts and birthday parties, have been a major and growing source of coronavirus transmission. He said that the public should be more vigilant with facial masks and social distancing.
“They can go into that barbecue with masks on, they can put the fridge on and they immediately take off the mask,” Newsom said of the reunion of people in one family. “… And suddenly here comes Uncle Bob, two hours late. He hugs everyone, and everyone says, ‘Hey, Uncle Bob, where’s the mask?’ And Uncle Bob says ‘I don’t believe in that,’ and it all starts to take shape. ”
California has seen a 43% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past two weeks, as state and local officials have allowed restaurants, hotels, bars, gyms and other businesses to reopen. The pandemic is still much worse in southern California than in northern California. Nearly 80% of the state’s 6,012 deaths through Tuesday have occurred in five southern California counties: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
Newsom said the state budget approved last week allows state officials to withhold up to $ 2.5 billion in funds from counties that refuse to follow health guidelines.
Noaki Schwartz, spokesman for the California Coastal Commission, said he is not aware of any pending beach closings beyond what has already been announced in Los Angeles County.
If the Newsom administration decides to limit beach access in other counties, that could take the form of closing parking lots in some areas, or closing beaches entirely, although that approach has proven difficult to apply.
Santa Cruz County health officials lifted the beach closure rules last Thursday, making them the last of California’s 15 counties to end regular beach closings. The beaches had been closed from 11 am to 5 pm in Santa Cruz County, although people were still allowed to cross the sand to get to the water, surf, swim, or surf at any time.
Although locals and tourists complied at first, so many people eventually ignored the rules that they became impossible to enforce, said Jason Hoppin, a Santa Cruz county spokesman.
Hoppin said he is not aware of any plans to close Santa Cruz County beaches this weekend.
He said the sheriff’s department had assigned as many as eight deputies to write beach fines for violators when the closings were in effect, and state park rangers, along with police from local cities like Capitola, were also trying to enforce the rules. But Santa Cruz has more than 30 miles of public beaches.
“It is difficult,” he said. “There are several beaches, each one has several access points. It was clear that there simply was not much compliance. The county sheriff put in a series of appeals. They were sweeping, and people were just filling up behind them. “
Hoppin noted that no cases of COVID-19 have been traced to people on the beaches of Santa Cruz County. Most of the cases have been traced to indoor settings, particularly at family gatherings, he said.
“We simply have no scientific justification for closing beaches only,” he said. “Our closure was always about encouraging compliance with the stay-at-home order.”
In recent weeks, nearly all of California’s 280 state parks, including state beaches from the Oregon border to San Diego, have been reopened, some with limited parking.
Gloria Sandoval, deputy director of the California state parks department, said Tuesday they are still open. But people should check online at parks.ca.gov before heading to any beach or state park, he noted.
“COVID still poses a risk to public health,” said Sandoval. “It is a dynamic and fluid situation. We are advising the public to plan ahead, visit our website, find out if parking is available and learn the guidelines. ”
The beaches that are part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area, including Stinson and Muir beaches in Marin County and Ocean Beach in San Francisco County, remain open.
“We have been working in concert with San Francisco and Marin counties to reflect their public health recommendations,” said Charles Strickfaden, spokesman for national parks. “We currently have no plans to change those recommendations on the beaches of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco or Marin by July 4. As always, fireworks are prohibited.