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Who is ‘Essential’ Now That Californians Have to Stay Home?

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Who is ‘essential’ now that Californians have to stay home?

SACRAMENTO (CalMatters) — Cities and counties were already issuing shelter-in-place orders in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Newsom’s stay-at-home directive had fewer details than many of the local bans. Which should people follow?

In ordering California’s nearly 40 million residents to stay at home, Gov. Gavin Newsom brought myriad county and city public-health directives under a single umbrella in one of the largest restrictions on civic life in American history.

But some local officials, lawmakers and businesses remained confused a day later about who’s allowed to go outside and who should go to work in the country’s most populous state. The breadth of Newsom’s order has so far not been matched with many specifics.

Cities and counties were already issuing their own shelter-in-place orders and other directives in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Many of those orders included specific details about which activities are considered essential, and therefore exempt from the order to stay inside. Others spelled out if, and how, the directives would be enforced.

In Alameda, Santa Clara and Placer counties, plumbers, auto mechanics and laundromats are exempt; bars and sit-down restaurants, not. In Sacramento County, officials said violation of its shelter-in-place directive would be a misdemeanor.

In Orange County, details were a little lighter. Gyms and health clubs were ordered shut. After an initial declaration with an exhaustive list of exempt businesses was rescinded, the county’s new decree is mum on plumbers and other specific services.

In rural, sparsely populated Alpine County, public health officials kept their order colloquial: “Contact with restaurants should all be take-out or delivery. There should be no gatherings of any kind. Walk your dog, go for a hike, sit and enjoy the sunshine!”

In issuing his shelter-in-place order, Newsom clearly intended to impose a single statewide policy.

“A state as large as ours, a nation-state, is many parts. But at the end of the day we’re one body,” the governor said in a livestreamed address. “There’s a mutuality and there’s a recognition of our interdependence that requires of this moment that we direct a statewide order for people to stay at home.”

A website maintained by the governor’s office to provide the public with information about the COVID-19 pandemic exempts “critical government services, schools, childcare, and construction, including housing construction.” The site offers a few more specific examples of “essential” services, “such as”:

  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies 
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants 
  • Banks
  • Laundromats/laundry services

The website goes on to say some businesses, “such as” those listed below, are to close:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Entertainment venues
  • Gyms and fitness studios
  • Public events and gatherings
  • Convention Centers

The order also exempts businesses that are needed to “maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors” as outlined by the Department of Homeland Security.

That federal list includes 16 economic sectors, including “commercial facilities,” energy production, water systems and food production.

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, a Republican from Lake Elsinore, compared the more detailed list of exempted activity issued by Los Angeles County with the order put out by the governor.

“That’s less clear. And I know it’s less clear because I have people who were contacting me asking: ‘What does this mean?’ ‘Can I go to work?’ ” she said, speaking from her home office.

In a real-time illustration of that uncertainty, Melendez said that there were workers at her home repairing a leak in her bathroom.

“I told my husband to text and ask if they’re still coming today and they said construction is considered essential business,” she said. But she also said she received a message from a constituent telling her that his father, an electrician, had been ordered to stay home.

“Nobody knows what the hell to do and are afraid that law enforcement are going to come out and arrest them,” she said. “I’m trying very hard to not be critical of the governor because its a stressful and chaotic time, but tightening this up a little would really reduce the stress level.”

Park goers enjoy the sunshine while maintaining social distance a Dolores Park in San Francisco on March 20, 2020. On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all of California to shelter in place and avoid leaving home except for essential needs. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatter
A smattering of people enjoyed the sunshine in a San Francisco park, the day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his shelter-in-place order. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

The governor’s office has not yet clarified whether cities and counties have the authority to fill in their own additional details, carving out more specific exemptions or adding more restrictions.

In the meantime, some counties are making the call on their own.

“Sacramento County is taking the position that its Public Health Order remains in effect and that Sacramento County residents should follow the Order issued by Sacramento County Public Health Officer on March 19, 2020,” spokesperson Kimberly Nava said in an email.

Karl Fischer, speaking for the Contra Costa County Health Services, which issued a shelter-in-place order Monday that’s more specific than Newsom’s, said county authorities were awaiting the opinion of legal counsel.

“For now we’re encouraging residents to follow both orders,” he said.

Stephen Duvernay is a senior research fellow at Berkeley Law’s California Constitution Center and an attorney with Benbrook Law Group in Sacramento. He said that based on both his interpretation of the governor’s decree and the way past orders have been interpreted, “the order leaves room for local governments to impose further restrictions consistent with the state standards.”

California law grants governors broad authority during emergencies to make or suspend policy and to enforce those policies with limited oversight or due process. That Newsom decided to use such a light touch is notable, said Duvernay.

“Just as important as the reach of the governor’s authority is how he chooses to exercise it,” he said. “The governor is asking us all to use common sense and for local officials to use their best judgment in implementing the statewide standards.

“This cooperative exercise of authority is critical, since the demands and resources of urban centers like Los Angeles or San Francisco may differ from those in the state’s rural counties,” Duvernay continued. “No one in law enforcement wants to be arresting people for walking their dog right now.”

This article is produced as part of WeHo Daily’s partnership with CalMatters, a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.

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Business

21 Workers Test Positive for Coronavirus at Rock n Roll Ralphs

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Workers protest outside Ralphs in Hollywood where 21 have tested positive for coronavirus

HOLLYWOOD (KTLA) — Workers rallied Friday outside a Ralphs store in Hollywood where 21 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group called on the store to take more aggressive action when staff test positive for the virus, and to ramp up efforts to protect the grocery store employees, who are considered essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

They said they speak for thousands of workers who are afraid they aren’t getting enough protection as the virus continues to spread countywide, infecting more than 24,000 as of Friday.

The Ralphs at 7257 W. Sunset Blvd. has had an outbreak involving several workers who tested positive for the virus, according to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, which lists businesses and […]

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‘Stay Put, Order In’ and Dine With Friends on Zoom, Says Mayor

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WEST HOLLYWOOD — WeHo is home to some of the best restaurants in the world and our community members are used to gathering around restaurant tables and enjoying meals together. Now, there’s an opportunity to, instead, gather around kitchen tables at home and enjoy a meal (or many!) while supporting our local restaurants.

“One of the worst things about the Safer At Home directive is being disconnected from friends, neighbors, and the city around us,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. “Don’t be alone if you don’t have to be – take advantage of the technology out there and invite a friend to Zoom in for Ziti or share some Farfalle over FaceTime.”

Mealtime is a wonderful opportunity to connect with friends, family, and loved ones using virtual teleconferencing technology, while partaking in your favorite delivered or takeout food.

City Encourages Residents to Support Local Restaurants During Safer At Home Orders

Many West Hollywood restaurants remain open and are offering takeout, curbside, and delivery meals, which are sensitive to social distancing during the emergency. The City of West Hollywood and the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to offer a directory of “Stay Put, Order In” eateries in West Hollywood, which is accessible by visitingwww.weho.org/coronavirus (click the “Stay Put, Order In” link!) or www.wehochamber.com/dinein. This list is updated daily.

“We need to start hanging out together, and talking, and seeing each other again. So, why not plan to #WeHoDinnerConnect this week – maybe Saturday at 8 p.m.? Or Sunday at 7 p.m.? Or even just 15 minutes of screen-to-screen gossip,” said Mayor D’Amico. “And you don’t have to cook a thing… local restaurants have meals and menus tailored to take-away choices and they’re ready to send food over to your house or make arrangements for you to pick it up.”

If picking up food, remember to wear face coverings, which are required to enter essential businesses.

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Business

Amoeba Music Won’t Reopen Original Sunset Boulevard Store

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Amoeba Music won’t be reopening its original Sunset Boulevard store

HOLLYWOOD (TimeOut) — In a statement posted to its Instagram account on Monday, Amoeba announced that it would not be reopening its nearly two-decade-old flagship on Sunset Boulevard. Instead, the indie record shop will divert all of its resources to opening its new shop on Hollywood Boulevard, which they still hope to have ready in the fall.

“There are so many unknowns and uncertainties for a business like ours right now,” the statement reads. “The only way we can keep Amoeba Hollywood alive in the future is to make this difficult decision now.”

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It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that the massive impact from COVID-19 has forced Amoeba Hollywood to remain closed until we can hopefully move to our new location this fall. We are devastated. We know you are too. We never envisioned not being able to give the store the send-off it deserves, to give you all a chance to say goodbye. But we are facing too many mitigating circumstances. This is not the end of Amoeba! We are moving to a new location at 6200 Hollywood Blvd in the fall and we feel fortunate that this plan was set into motion long before COVID-19. There are so many unknowns and uncertainties for a business like ours right now. The only thing we do know for certain is that we intend to survive. We want to continue to be there for our amazing customers and our incredible staff in our new location long after this pandemic disappears. The only way we can keep Amoeba Hollywood alive in the future is to make this difficult decision now. Thank you ALL so much for your support during this time and over the years. We have the best customers in the world, as evidenced by the tremendous outpouring of support for our GoFundMe. Your generosity is going to help cover health care for our employees at all three stores, and generally help Amoeba continue while we all must remain closed. We miss you all and cannot wait until we can be together again. Please read our full statement online at https://amoeba.com/moveupdate

A post shared by Amoeba Hollywood (@amoebahollywood) on

Our original story about the store’s GoFundMe campaign appears below.

It’s become a pit stop on music-lover’s tours of Hollywood, it’s hosted concerts from Patti Smith and Paul McCartney, and it’s weathered the Great Recession and the transition from CDs to MP3s to all things streaming. But with Amoeba Music’s future more uncertain now than ever, the massive independent record store is turning to its devotees for nearly half a million dollars to try to stay afloat.

In an essay on GoFundMe, Amoeba cofounders Dave Prinz and Marc Weinstein recount […]

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