Governor orders closure of indoor operations at restaurants, museums for 3 weeks

Most of California will have to close indoor service at restaurants, museums and other venues for at least three weeks as cases of COVID-19 continue to climb and health officials worry about the prospect of crowds gathering for July 4 festivities.

“This doesn’t mean restaurants are shut down,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “It means we’re trying to take these activities and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus.”

The temporary closures will impact 19 counties across the state, including Los Angeles County and the city of Long Beach. In those areas, all indoor operations also must cease at wineries, tasting rooms, family entertainment centers and card rooms.

Newsom also announced the state will close all parking facilities at state beaches in Southern California, and state beaches will be closed in counties such as Los Angeles that have moved to close their own beaches.

The governor previously announced on Sunday that bars in seven counties would have to close, but that will now include the 19 counties on the state’s “watch list,” including Orange and Los Angeles counties.

California has confirmed close to 223,000 infections, a nearly 50% increase over two weeks ago that has been driven in part by the state’s ability to now test more than 100,000 people per day. But more concerning to officials is the steady growth in COVID-19 hospitalizations—a 43% increase in the past two weeks.

“Please do not take your guard down,” Newsom said.

Newsom said the state will be more aggressive in enforcing public health orders.

He announced Wednesday that the state is empowering a “strike team” to target non-compliant businesses. The team will include the ABC, CalOSHA, the CHP and others, who will partner with local public health departments.

“One should not have to put their life at risk to go to work as an essential worker,” Newsom said.

Across the state, many local governments are already tightening restrictions. Counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay have delayed some reopenings as new cases increase. In Los Angeles and Long Beach, officials say they will close beaches and ban fireworks displays for the upcoming weekend as LA County hit a one-day record of 2,903 more confirmed cases and more than 100,000 cases overall.

Ventura County, LA’s northern neighbor, also planned to shut down beaches beginning July 3.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Melissa has been a journalist for over two decades, starting her career as a reporter covering health and religion and moving into local news. She has worked as an editor for eight years, including seven years at the Press Telegram before joining the Long Beach Post in June 2018. She also serves as a part-time lecturer at Cal State Long Beach where she teaches multimedia journalism and writing.