SACRAMENTO, Calif|SHIFTMEDIA| California’s governor on Thursday ordered a curfew placed on all indoor social gatherings and non-essential activities outside the home across most of the state in a major escalation of measures to curb an alarming surge in coronavirus infections.
The limited stay-at-home restrictions will go into effect from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. each day, starting Saturday night and ending the morning of Dec. 21, covering 41 counties representing over 94% of the state’s population, Governor Gavin Newsom said.
“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic, and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge,” Newsom said in a statement announcing the measure.
He said the restriction is essentially the same as California’s first-in-the-nation statewide stay-at-home order that Newsom imposed in March, except it applies only during the designated curfew hours rather than around the clock.
A short time earlier, President-elect Joe Biden emerged from a teleconference with 10 governors from both parties saying they had discussed a possible “implementation of a national mask mandate.”
“I am not going to shut down the economy, period. I’m going to shut down the virus,” Biden told reporters, adding, “I’ll say it again: no national shutdown. Every regional area, every community is different.”
Newsom’s order came as state and local government leaders nationwide were moving to reimpose restrictions on social and economic life, seeking to tamp down soaring rates of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations heading into winter following a summertime lull in the pandemic.
Health experts say greater social mixing and indoor gatherings during the holiday season, combined with colder weather, will likely accelerate the surge, threatening to overwhelm already strained healthcare systems.
Newsom, a first-term Democrat, warned that “more stringent actions” may be necessary if the latest efforts to blunt the contagion fall short.
Republican state Assemblyman James Gallagher sharply criticized the governor’s action, saying, “An arbitrary curfew will only further decimate struggling businesses that already face some of the toughest hurdles in the country.”
The newly ordered curfew in California, the most populous U.S. state with some 40 million residents, came a day after New York City’s public school system, the nation’s largest, called a halt to in-classroom instruction due to rising infection rates there. (REUTERS)