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California, toque de queda

California follows New York and imposes a curfew

The increase in COVID-19 cases alarmed state authorities, which have not yet been able to flatten the contagion curve

[Leer en español]

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new restrictive measure from his administration to try to reduce the increase in coronavirus cases: a limited curfew.

“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. We are sounding the alarm,” explained Newsom in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

California authorities reported that the virus is spreading at its highest level since the pandemic began. The largest increase in cases in the state was in mid-June when the infection rate rose 39.2% in one week. But the beginning of November far exceeded that, with California recording a 51.3% increase in infections in one week as well. This situation has prompted the governor to impose a curfew.

“It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again,” said Governor Newsom, who has been involved in a major controversy over attending a birthday dinner for one of his political advisors and friends after imposing much-criticized Thanksgiving restrictions.

At that meeting, some measures imposed by state authorities were not followed, nor were health recommendations such as social distancing or use of masks.

The news provoked indignation among the governor’s most critics and surprised natural allies in the fight against the pandemic. Newsom was not the only one to be singled out, as two senior members of the California Medical Association were also in attendance: Janus Norman, a senior lobbyist for this organization, and Dustin Corcoran, the association’s CEO.

California, Toque de queda
People arrive and depart from the Covid-19 testing venue at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California on November 12, 2020. – European and world leaders on November 12, 2020 insisted that when Covid-19 vaccines are launched they should be made a available to everyone, under an international project which still needs $28 billion of funding. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)
What are the curfew guidelines for California?

It is worth noting that the curfew is a new measure to those already taken by California authorities.

The San Diego Union-Tribune summarized some of the actions and concerns of state officials.

Among those measures are private meetings, where the recommendation is not to hold them because of the danger of spreading the virus “especially if you travel from afar. Now, if they are held, the best thing is to be outdoors, with social distancing, wearing masks, and that the people gathered do not exceed the limit of three different homes.”

Citizens should stay in their homes and not make “non-essential trips” and that if they do, they should undergo a voluntary quarantine for 14 days.

In that sense, the curfew, already implemented in New York, is intended to reduce the “mixing” of people. That is, to avoid crowding in food establishments, bars or gyms.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the measure has four main items:

  • The curfew goes into effect at 10 p.m. Saturday night until December 21.
  • It will only be implemented in counties in purple phase.
  • Under the order, people living in a single household can go out after 10 p.m. as long as there is no interaction with families from other households.
  • All non-essential activities and meetings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. are prohibited.

According to the LA Times, “28 counties moved back to the purple restrictive level of the monitoring system, leaving a total of 41 of the state’s 58 counties at that level.” Thus, much of California will impose this curfew, which mainly affects businesses that depend on California’s nightlife.

In New York the same measure is leaving restaurants in red numbers. Plus, they do not seem to strike a balance between keeping the economy afloat and COVID-19 infections down.

For example, in Belgium, a country that was heavily affected by the virus, curfews only began at midnight. This situation gave an important margin to the restaurants to organize themselves in time and logistics and offered a good time for clients to gather.

When the limit is only until 10 p.m., the situation is diametrically opposed. It can even mean that more people gather around that “rush hour” causing the opposite effect of avoiding crowds in the establishments.

In addition to affecting restaurant owners, the measure also hits workers who see their working hours tragically reduced.

Even with the measure imposed, what worries most is whether this kind of “cure” is worse than the disease. California has long been confined, and the economic havoc has especially affected lower-income, middle-class families and those with small and medium companies.

The economic and health situation is complicated and the curfew could make it worse if it does not work as authorities expect.

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