California reimposes restrictions after spike in new cases

A social distancing reminder at San Francisco Zoo. IMAGE/COURTESY

Gyms, churches and hairdressers have been told to close in more than half of California’s 58 counties after the state recorded more than 8,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday.

California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the closures in the 30 counties where numbers of cases are rising, including Los Angeles and San Diego, the two most populous.

Mr Newsom also extended the closure of bars and indoor dining to the whole of the state, along with indoor malls and offices in non-critical industries.

California confirmed 8,358 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, part of a 47% rise over the last fortnight, while the number of people with the disease going to hospital has increased by 28% over the past two weeks.

Mr Newsom, whose order takes effect immediately, said: “The data suggests not everybody is practising common sense.”

In March, California, the most populous state in the US, issued a mandatory stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Initially, it worked, as the number of cases stabilised in the following weeks, while other states were hit by huge increases.

But the order devastated the world’s fifth-largest economy, with more than 7.5 million people filing for unemployment.

Governor Newsom was quick to allow most businesses to reopen in May, but the subsequent rise in cases and patients going to hospital led him to impose new restrictions this month.

Two of the state’s largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, will be having lessons online only in the new term.

California has reported more than 329,100 cases and more than 7,000 deaths, though infections are probably higher because some people don’t show symptoms and there is a lack of testing.

Along with Florida and Texas, it has become one of the new US epicentres of the pandemic, although infections have risen rapidly in about 40 of the 50 states over the last two weeks, according to Reuters.

Despite nearly 28,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last two days, Florida has announced no new measures such as a state-wide mask order, and Disney World in Orlando remains open for business.

The US has recorded more than 3.3 million coronavirus cases, the most worldwide, and suffered more than 135,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the pandemic.