Opinion: Why is Newsom blaming restaurants?

OPINION

BY DAVE PRICE
Daily Post Editor

The head of the state restaurant association has a simple question for Gov. Gavin Newsom — where’s the data?

California was hit with an increase in positive coronavirus tests in mid-June. Newsom’s reaction last week was to shut down indoor restaurant dining in many counties. Indoor dining is still OK in San Mateo County but only outdoor dining is allowed in Santa Clara County. And even that’s in doubt.

The head of the restaurant association, Jot Condie, is wondering why the governor is targeting restaurants. He wants to see the data showing restaurants caused the increase in coronavirus cases.

So far, Newsom hasn’t responded. You’d think Newsom would have an easy time answering that question since he’s said repeatedly that his decisions were guided by “data” and “science.”

There could have been other reasons for the increase. For instance many of the protesters in early June weren’t wearing masks or social distancing. And the rise in cases coincided with the end of the incubation period for COVID-19 for someone exposed at a protest.

A third of restaurants to close

It’s a confusing situation for restaurants. Experts interviewed by the Los Angeles Times estimate that one-third of the state’s restaurants will be permanently closing.

First, many are facing a cash crunch. They buy their food once a month on credit, paying their supplier with money made from sales during the month. In March, when the state closed the restaurants, kitchens had all this food — food they couldn’t freeze and keep until the pandemic is over. Many restaurants gave away their inventory to help the needy. But because of the shutdown, no money came in the door. So now, as they try to reopen, their supplier is saying, “Where’s the money for March?” And if they don’t have the money, the supplier will refuse to give them more credit.

Second, when indoor dining returns, many restaurants can’t make enough money under the seating capacity limits set by the state to ensure social distancing. So I think the idea of shutting down streets to help restaurants expand outdoors makes sense.

But the state’s rules for preventing the spread of COVID-19 are confusing and contradictory. I don’t even think the state understands its own rules.

State, county confused

On Friday night, armed agents of California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) visited several restaurants in the South County cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy, telling them that they had to shut down or risk a citation, according to the Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle.

Business owners, city officials and the police were confused by the ABC’s action, saying they had received no the state stay-at-home order.

The problem is that the state order doesn’t explicitly ban outdoor dining, so the county took that to mean they could allow it. Now the state is disagreeing with the county’s interpretation.

The other oddity is that the state allowed San Mateo County to give the green light to indoor dining, gyms, barbershops and hair salons, even though it has almost twice the coronavirus cases per 10,000 as Santa Clara County, and more per capita deaths.

These sort of questions raise credibility questions for the state and county governments. That’s not helpful at a time when the stay-at-home orders have cost 3 million Californians their jobs and forced tens of thousands of businesses to close permanently. The best way to handle this is with transparency. Governor, where’s the data?

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is price@padailypost.com.

12 Comments

    • The virus is on its last legs anyway, with deaths bottoming out, and not that we had any serious problem in California to begin with.

      You should not be afraid to go inside a bar. Human interaction is good for mental health and germs are necessary for keeping your immune system healthy. I touch everything from street crossing buttons, touch screens, and gas pump nozzles with my bare hands without using disinfectant or hand washing afterwards. I often intentionally touch my face or mouth right afterwards. Haven’t gotten sick either. I’m not some sick “germ lover” but try to compensate for all the distancing and lack of handshakes and hugs over the past 4-5 months. Plus life is too short to live in constant fear of the unknown.

  1. Right on! Dave, thank you for writing this. The rules are so contradictory. We want to be very safe in running our businesses, but they’re making it impossible for us to succeed. Thank you for taking the time to understand this problem.

    • I wish more restaurants, gyms, salons, small businesses etc. would join forces and disobey the orders and engage in protests – actual “peaceful” protests – and put an end to the insanity. The decision to open should be made by private owners with customers making individual decisions if they want to dine in or not. The government cannot be trusted in this or most other areas and often makes the situation worse because they lack the information and incentives – no skin in the game – to make proper trade-offs and adjustments at the margin. Again, let people decide if they want to frequent the bars and restaurants.

  2. Why is Newsom blaming restaurants? You come so close to answering this question but you fall short. The surge in cases has no other explanation than the Black Lives Matter protests. But Newsom can’t blame them because they’re political allies. So he goes after restaurants because he knows he’s already lost their votes. No need to look out for them anymore.

      • Those were rallies?!? Buildings and cars on fire, and the rioters were holding a “rally”. Nice try at trying to diminish these riots where people lost their businesses.

        The BLM movement is dead because these rallies, with the looting and arsons, showed America exactly who these people are.

        • No, Clay, BLM is not dead. It is alive and well at Palo Alto City Hall where the BLM mural contains the likeness of Assata Shakur (Joanne Chesimard) who killed a policeman. It is obviously of no concern to the city that this mural is extremely offensive to our police officers. The National Police Association is demanding the offending likeness of Assata Shakur be removed. Who approved this mural? City spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan Taylor said that the mural will remain for up to a year and is part of a “larger city dialogue taking place on race and equity and connects to the city’s thoughtful conversations on the role of policing.” Taylor’s comment is incredibly insensitive and absurd. How can such a mural add to any thoughtful conversation. I am aghast at her comment. She is obviously suffering from foot in mouth disease.

    • Surge in cases due mainly to exponential increase in testing, BLM riots, and different criteria for diagnosing positive cases – mixing virus tests (active cases) with antibody tests (old cases of people with immunity) – including a Covid phone or video diagnosis where you tell the doctor you have a cough or stuff nose. It’s a joke. Tests have high false positive rates too. This is all well known.

      Agree with your views on throwing restaurants under the bus.

  3. The longer this drags on the easier it is to see that Newsom, along with plenty of other electeds, is actually trying to destroy the economy and the livelihoods of so many working people. This is a controlled demolition. Newsom is doing his job destroying our way of life.

    A year’s worth of suicides in a month at one Bay Area hospital: https://abc7news.com/suicide-covid-19-coronavirus-rates-during-pandemic-death-by/6201962/

    That’s on you, Gavin Newsom. With an assist from Sara Cody.

    • That’s absolutely right. California had the earliest cases and still has close to fewest deaths were capita than any other state. The lockdowns, distancing, and mask rules make no sense anymore – not that they ever did.

      I keep hearing Newsom relying on data and science, but I have seen no such reports from the governor. Does he even have press conferences or is it all done in private with emergency orders and no push back whatsoever?

  4. Just want to add a ‘thank you’ to the editors of the Daily Post for allowing free speech on this on-line news site…unlike the other Palo Alto online paper. How refreshing.

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