California Gov. Gavin Newsom Issues Statewide Closure Order of Indoor Movie Theaters, Restaurants

Governor Gavin Newsom 1 - May 27 2020- Publicity -H 2020
Courtesy of Governor Gavin Newsom

The vast majority of the state's 518 cinemas aren't planning to reopen until the end of July or early August; as of Monday, only 28 sites were up and running.

As novel coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide order Monday requiring indoor operations such as movie theaters to close, effective immediately.

Hollywood wasn't entirely surprised considering the surge in COVID-19 cases, but is hoping the edict will be loosened relatively quickly. The vast majority of the state's cinemas aren't planning to reopen until July 31 (as of Monday, only 28 sites were up and running. Almost all are smaller, independent locations). The first Hollywood tentpole scheduled to hit the big screen is Christopher Nolan's Tenet on Aug. 12.

The indoor theater mandate was part of a sweeping order requiring a number of indoor operations to close statewide in all counties, including bars, family entertainment centers, wineries and tasting rooms, zoos, museums and card rooms.

Meanwhile, Newsom announced that indoor operations in additional sectors will be closed in "all the counties on our county monitoring list." Indoor operations include: Fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services, hair salons and barbershops and malls. 

Counties impacted on that list include: Colusa, Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, Yolo, Yuba and Ventura. 

"We're seeing an increase in the spread of the virus, so that's why it's incumbent upon all of us to recognize soberly that COVID-19 is not going away any time soon until there is a vaccine or an effective therapy," Newsom said Monday.

"We've made this point on multiple occasions, and that is, we're moving back into a modification mode of our original stay-at-home order, but doing so utilizing what we commonly refer to as a dimmer switch, not an on/off switch," he said. 

As of July 12, 8,358 cases have been reported in the state with an 8,211 seven-day average.

The new order comes shortly after Newsom reiterated that cases "continue to spread at alarming rates." The governor stressed, "This virus is not going away any time soon," adding that the virus is not "taking summer off." 

"This continues to be a deadly disease," Newsom said, as he warned people that the virus is "still killing people" across the state.

Of the new order L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a Monday presser, "The action that the governor took today is the right approach, and I thank him for making sure that we did it across counties in our region. It's exceptionally difficult if one place next to another one doesn't have the same regulations." He went on to explain that changes are "designed to stop the indoor gathering of people, which is how the virus spreads." He also said the L.A. city threat level remains at orange. 

Meanwhile, for students Garcetti said that they will not attend classes in person for the fall semester because "we should only open when things are safe." 

California had recently begun reopening the economy, with most counties allowing people to shop, dine in at restaurants, work out in gyms, visit hair salons and attend church services, among other things. But concern has grown as coronavirus cases continue to increase. 

Last month, Newsom ordered the closing of bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles, due to the rising spread of COVID-19. Newsom also began mandating that Californians wear masks in most indoor settings and outdoors when distancing isn't possible.

Strict restrictions were also ordered ahead of the July 4 holiday as beaches, piers, beach bike paths and beach access points were closed. 

During a press briefing last month, Barbara Ferrer, the director of public health for L.A. County, explained that while officials predicted an increase in cases occurring as soon as the economy began reopening, she said they didn't expect to "see this steep of an increase this quickly." She said that there are a number of businesses and individuals that have not followed directives and warned: "At this point, if you're not part of the solution to slowing the spread, you're ending up a part of the problem."

Pamela McClintock contributed to this report.

July 13, 5:30 p.m. Updated with Garcetti statements.