It’s not hard to argue that California has the country’s harshest pandemic restrictions, though New York and Michigan are close enough to call it a tie.
This would be news to anyone visiting from elsewhere, though. Aside from a few exceptions, things look rather normal.
About 33 million of the state’s nearly 40 million residents have been told by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to stay at home. Anyone venturing out is expected to comply with his 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.
Most are in Southern California, home of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said a few weeks ago that “it’s time to cancel everything.” In no mood to let up, the state recently badgered Californians with an emergency alert on their cell phones. It read:
“State of CA: New public health stay at home order in your area. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. Stay home except for essential activity. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Visit covid19.ca.gov.”
It apparently had little impact. In Los Angeles, traffic looks much like it did pre-pandemic. Fed-up businesses are fighting bitter battles with officials, who are threatening to turn off their power and strip them of their business licenses if they don’t surrender.
“California’s stay-at-home health order falling on many deaf ears,” reads the headline of a Dec. 11 Associated Press report that best sums up the conditions.
It’s fitting that the story carried a “Manhattan Beach” dateline.
The city has, for the sake of its merchants, residents and visitors, bucked the county’s outdoor dining ban. It allows customers buying takeout to use the sometimes elaborate and often costly outdoor facilities owners had set up after they had been forced to take their business outside.
Though “one arm of government is urging residents to stay home except for essential needs while,” says the AP, Manhattan Beach “is encouraging them to get out and shop and even providing places where they can sit down to relax, eat takeout and watch the sun set on the Pacific.”
Restaurant owners and employees have been the most visible lockdown victims, but they gained some ground when on Dec. 8 a Los Angeles Superior Court ruled that the county’s outdoor-dining ban “is an abuse of the (health) department’s emergency powers, (and) is not grounded in science, evidence, or logic.”
Judge James Chalfant temporarily set aside the prohibition, noting the government and the media “are generating fear and thriving on fear and the evidence shows that healthy Americans need not fear.”
While restaurant operations are still handcuffed by state restrictions, the ruling sets a standard by which other orders can be challenged.
Farther south, “multiple Orange County restaurants are staying open for in-person dining in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order,” the local media report.
Gyms are almost in a category by themselves in refusing to comply with politicians’ demands. Owners are ignoring closure orders and members are donating to funds to pay off fines.
At least one standoff between an owner and authorities, this one in San Luis Obispo County, is “starting to get ugly.”
As the rebellion accelerates, law enforcement officials are declining to enforce Newsom’s stay-at-home order.
The sheriffs of Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties said they’re going to sit this one out. Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco announced that he wouldn’t be “blackmailed, bullied or used as muscle” to carry out Sacramento’s directives.
Newsom, he said, has a “dictatorial attitude” and is “extremely hypocritical.”
The latter is a reference to the governor being caught at a birthday party with a large, mask-free group held indoors at Napa Valley’s Michelin three-star French Laundry, an exclusive restaurant “worth a special journey!”
Newsom made his “bad mistake” while telling everyone else to hide indoors and avoid social gatherings.
Newsom was elected governor in 2018 with nearly 62 percent of the vote. But a recall effort has gained traction. Organizers say they’ve collected more than half of the nearly 1.5 million signatures needed to put it on the ballot.
The grievances include taxation, homelessness, housing costs and a diminished quality of life, but it was Newsom’s French Laundry affair that fueled “a surge of several hundred thousand” signatures.
California might be a Democratic state, but even Democrats are getting their fill of hypocritical and useless lockdown rules.