California protesters push to reopen, Gov Newsom urges to practice social distancing during protest


indica News Bureau-

“Open our economy” and “I want to pray in church.” These are some slogans of hundreds of people of California who are on road demanding to reopen California. Hundreds of protesters lobbying to ease governor Gavin Newsom’s tight stay-at-home orders rallied around the California Capitol.

At least 100 vehicles circled the Capitol in Sacramento, horns blaring, as at least 200 protesters marched with signs protesting the weeks-long shutdown that has paralyzed the economy, according to a report of Fox KTVU. Many marchers did not wear masks and crowded together on the sidewalk and streets, defying recommendations to minimize the spread of the virus, the report said.

The protest was organized by a group called Freedom Angels that has previously organized rallies against California legislation to restrict vaccine exemptions. While it was organized as a call to reopen businesses and communities, some protesters questioned whether they would be forced to be vaccinated or tested for immunity to return to work or schools.

“Tracking + tracing = tyranny,” read a protest sign.

Charles Morris was out on the streets protesting. “Everybody in my family is fine,” he said. “Nobody has got it. I keep hearing about it, but I don’t see it. Is it even worse than the regular flu?”

California Highway Patrol officials did not respond to questions Monday about why they issued a permit for a mass gathering in the face of stay-at-home orders. Law enforcement officers kept marchers from stopping traffic, but made no move to enforce social distancing.

It was the latest in a series of recent protests nationwide after President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted messages that some saw as encouraging protests against stay-at-home mandates.

The requests reflect how some smaller counties are beginning to see coronavirus cases decline more dramatically than some larger counties, raising hopes that they might be able to relax restrictions before others.

In Los Angeles County, where more than 100 coronavirus deaths were recorded over the weekend, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said allowing stay-at-home rules to end too soon could worsen the situation.

“I know many of you are feeling frustrated or wondering when we’ll be able to lift the Safer at Home order. But lifting the restrictions too soon could risk lives. My promise to the people of L.A. is that evidence and medicine will continue to guide us through this crisis,” the mayor said on Twitter.

However, according to previous announcements, the state of California is making progress against the battle with COVID-19, but Gov. Gavin Newsom said there are six factors to consider before lifting the stay-at-home order, Fox11 reported.  

The factors include the ability to protect our communities through testing, the ability to prevent infection in those at risk, the ability of hospitals to handle surges, the ability to develop therapeutics, the ability for businesses, schools and child care facilities to support physical distancing, and the ability to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home order, if necessary.

Newsom declined to give an exact date when stay-at-home orders might be lifted, but said he would re-evaluate progress on the six outlined criteria in two weeks and address the issue of timing then.

“We talk about what the new normal will look like. As I said, normal it will not be. At least until we have ‘herd immunity’ and a vaccine.” 

“We’ve really started, so to speak, to bend the curve,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, California’s Department of Public Health Director. “That doesn’t mean we can just let everything open and send everybody back into the streets … Because indeed if we remove all of our interventions, we will again expect a surge.”

Dr. Angell and Gov. Newsom detailed some of the way the state may look different even as society begins. For example, at restaurants, they said, you may see servers wearing face masks, menus may be disposable, you may have your temperature taken before entering and there may be half as many tables as before.

The governor said the possibility of mass gatherings, like concerts or sporting events, was “negligible at best” until a vaccine was widely available.

Officials in San Luis Obispo County noted that their coronavirus infection rate has been declining because residents have been diligent in adhering to stay-at-home orders and practicing social distancing. But with businesses shut down and so many people out of work, the county faces a perilous financial outlook.

As a result, officials requested approval to “begin a science-based, thoughtfully phased reopening of our economy.”

“We have asked our residents to take these desperate measures because of the unique risks posed to the broader community by this virus so that we can flatten the curve and allow our healthcare capacity to catch up,” they said in a letter to the governor. “Now we need to move to the next phase, which is economic recovery.”

Placerville, in El Dorado County east of Sacramento, has not lifted any stay-at-home orders, but the City Council last week voted to send a letter to Newsom asking when the city could reopen. City leaders say their town should be able to reopen before bigger cities that have been hit harder by the outbreak.

“The city needs to advocate [for opening stores sooner] because we have a very low infection rate — even though I got it,” Vice Mayor Dennis Thomas told the Mountain Democrat. Thomas recently recovered from COVID-19.

The updated order rolled out by Ventura County on Saturday, which is in place through May 15, allows some businesses that don’t serve the public to operate using no more than 10 employees. Gatherings of up to five people are now permitted, as are gatherings in vehicles.

Golf courses and bike shops can reopen, and in-person sales of vehicles are now permitted. Officials also reopened county-run parks and beaches at 5 p.m. Friday.

Residents are still required to stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing when visiting essential businesses. Leaving home to exercise is permitted, but gyms will remain closed.

Riverside County announced Monday it was allowing golf courses to reopen –but with restrictions.

“Play is being cautiously reopened for observation,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s public health officer said in a statement, stressing that social distancing guidelines remain in effect. 

Health officials released the following guidelines:

  • Play shall be limited to foursomes. The players will be required to observe a six-foot separation at all times.
  • No caddies are permitted.
  • No large gatherings, including fundraisers or tournaments, will be permitted before June 20.
  • Face coverings, such as scarves, bandannas and neck gaiters, shall be worn by players and workers.
  • No in-person dining will be allowed at clubhouses.