In Dec. of 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom said that he implemented the stay at home order to prepare for the surges in cases that would inevitably happen during the large holiday gatherings. Newsom divided the state into five different regions, and ultimately imposed the order on four of them because the available capacity in their ICUs fell below the state mandated 15%. The only region that stayed above the mandate was Northern California. With the stay at home order, a statewide curfew that required citizens to stay in their homes from 10 pm to 5 am was also put into place.
On Jan. 25, Governor Newsom lifted the stay at home order as well as the curfew in most of the state. However, the curfew is still active in San Francisco. In a virtual news conference, when talking about why he lifted the order, Newsom said “We’re seeing a flattening of the curve — everything that should be up is up, everything that should be down is down — case rates, positivity rates, hospitalizations, ICUs.”
Because the amount of people affected went down, Newsom felt it was safe to lift the stay at home order as well as the curfew. With this change, restaurants are allowed to serve people outdoors and businesses that were shut down, such as barber shops or salons, can open up again. Retail stores are now allowed to fill their stores to a greater capacity.
However, as of last week, in a court case deemed South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, the Supreme Court overruled Newom’s decisions to not allow indoor worship. The court argued that the ban was in direct violation of the first amendment, in which freedom of religion is expressed. Many people felt that the ban on indoor worship, which was worse in California than in any other state, was unconstitutional as it put more restrictions on places of worship, which are a constitutional right, than bars or other services that are not protected by the constitution.
The public health director of Los Angeles County, Barbara Ferrer urges people to continue wearing masks and to social distance. Without doing this, she says “we’ll be in the horrible position of needing to once again backtrack.” Sonoma County’s Health Officer Sundari Mase commented on the fact that the number of cases still seemed to be high. “We must remain vigilant and take all necessary mitigation measures until the vaccine is distributed widely.”
Newsom’s political opponents and members of his party alike are criticising the decision. They say that the rules were being relaxed because of political pressure. Others say that Newsom made his decision because, in the threat of a recall election, he wanted to gain supporters so he would not be recalled. Though Newsom has denied all of these claims, calling them “nonsense”, no one can be sure whether the real motive to remove the order was a decrease in cases or fear that he will lose his place as governor.
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