New restrictions imposed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 are drawing criticism from a rural congressman.
Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Thursday announced a "limited stay-at-home order" barring what the state considers non-essential work, movement and gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the 41 counties plunged into the most restrictive tier.
The order will take effect Saturday night and remain until 5 a.m. Dec. 21. State officials argue the curfew will inhibit late-night social gatherings at which there's a higher likelihood of virus spread.
“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,” Newsom said in a statement. “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.”
The state also issued a travel advisory, along with Oregon and Washington, urging people entering the state or returning home from travel outside the state to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus. The travel advisory urges against non-essential out-of-state travel, asks people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country, and encourages residents to stay local.
Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., complains the new orders effectively ban all family gatherings, including Thanksgiving, traveling, and evening activities outside the home.
“Most of my constituents don’t buy $400 meals at swanky Napa restaurants as the governor does, but it’s not his or the government’s business when and where we eat anyway," said LaMalfa, a Richvale, Calif., rice farmer and House Agriculture Committee member. "This curfew is essentially saying you can stay out late and have seafood in San Francisco, but not enjoy a late ribeye in Red Bluff.
“This threat of holding so-called violators of this forced lockdown accountable is laughable," he said. "The cops are plenty busy re-catching actual criminals that the governor released from prison ostensibly because of COVID-19. What we don’t need are government social workers to tuck us in at night, and they certainly aren’t invited to our Thanksgiving table."
'A free people' should decide
LaMalfa called a nighttime curfew absurd, asserting that COVID-19 doesn't suddenly become more contagious after 10 p.m.
"A free people should make their own educated decisions about what is safe and how they would like to behave," he said.
LaMalfa represents California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.
His remarks come as Newsom, a Democrat, has caught heat for recently attending a fancy dinner party at the French Laundry, an upscale Napa restaurant, and as legal challenges against state lockdowns are working their way through the courts.
This week, an appellate court stayed an injunction from a Sutter County court that barred Newsom from issuing new executive orders that create new law. Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman had ruled that Newsom overstepped his constitutional authority when he ordered that every registered voter receive a ballot by mail. An appeal of the case is pending.
The California Farm Bureau Federation has estimated that lockdowns and other pandemic-related would cause a loss of between $5.9 billion and $8.6 billion this year for California farms, ranches and agricultural businesses.