Demonstrations are planned against the new shutdown order – AP
California is dramatically rolling back its reopening plans as it struggles to contain a resurgence of the coronavirus, with Los Angeles’ mayor threatening to impose a full shutdown if the situation does not improve.
America’s most populous state has reached more than 7,000 coronavirus-related deaths and on Monday recorded almost 8,400 new cases of the virus within a 24-hour period.
The new figures prompted Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, to order all bars to close, while restaurants, cinemas and museums can no longer allow customers indoors.
Indoor religious services, gyms and beauty salons have also been forced to close again in the worst hit parts of the state, Mr Newsom said as he aims to halt the surge in infections and hospitalisations.
“We’re going back into modification mode of our original stay-at-home order,” Mr Newsom said. “This continues to be a deadly disease.”
A restaurant in San Francisco. Eateries had only recently started to reopen in the state – BLOOMBERG
Mr Newsom has previously blamed the surge of infections on what he termed “young invincibles” – younger people who believed they are not susceptible to the virus’ most serious forms.
The fresh round of shutdowns has triggered concern among business leaders who fear other US states will soon follow suit. Officials in several other states have already mulled plans to pause their reopenings as they battle a resurgence of the coronavirus cases.
In Florida and Texas, the country’s next two most populous states, officials hinted that they may return to stricter lockdown measures.
The three states – California, Florida and Texas – have reported almost 900,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, according to a New York Times database. On Monday alone, the three states recorded at least 30,000 new infections in total – making about 18 percent of the global daily total.
Schools in many counties will have to remain closed – REUTERS
Officials in Florida and Texas have also sought to blame people under 30 for spreading the virus, linking the increase in cases to y partying to the reopening of bars.
“You can’t control [them]… they’re younger people. They’re going to do what they’re going to do,” said Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, as he urged them to be considerate of “more vulnerable” community members.
California was the first place in the country to impose a stay-at-home order when the pandemic began, with health officials crediting Mr Newsom’s swift action for limiting the virus’ impact in the area.
The state then moved to reopen large parts of its economy in May, but cases had begun to rise steadily by mid-June and soon surpassed more than 5,000 new daily cases.
In reversing the state’s lockdown, Mr Newsom appeared to acknowledge that the focus of the reopening had not been effective. Earlier in the pandemic the state had closed beaches, campgrounds and state parks as it sought to limit interactions of people from different households.
Since then health officials’ understanding of how the virus spreads has changed, with research suggesting it is most likely to be transmitted indoors rather than outdoors.
Mr Newsom’s new strategy is to focus on limiting indoor activities, stressing the importance of wearing face masks and leaving outdoor activities alone.
Among the worst affected areas is Los Angeles County, where at least 130,000 people have had the virus.
Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, immediately implemented the new shutdowns and warned he would impose harsher measures if the city did not improve.
Earlier this month the city created a colour-coded system to designate the threat level from the virus and corresponding shutdowns.
It is currently at orange, the second-highest designation, owing to the rising number of new infections and hospitalisations.
“Red is when everything shuts down again – everything, to our strictest level. And I do want to warn people that we’re close to that,” Mr Garcetti said.