Gov. Gavin Newsom holds up a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on December 14, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jae C. Hong-Pool/Getty Images)
UPDATED 2:47 PM PT – Saturday, June 5, 2021
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said he will be holding onto his state of emergency powers for now despite the state preparing to reopen. California’s Democrat governor made the announcement on Friday, less than two weeks before the state is slated to drop its COVID-19 restrictions.
Newsom held a widely publicized event in which he named winners in a state lottery for vaccinated residents. In what was reminiscent of a game show, Newsom drew the first winners of more than $116 million in prizes in an effort to press more residents to get vaccinated.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and UC Davis Assistant Nurse Manager Claudio Alvarado select the first 15 Californians to be awarded $50,000 for doing their part in getting vaccinated. (Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee via AP)
However, when asked if he would lift the state of emergency when the state fully reopens on June 15, Newsom said “no”. He stated, “I’m mindful this disease has not been extinguished. It hasn’t gone away. We are in a dense environment, hundreds of other employees, many of them haven’t been vaccinated.”
Newsom continued on to say, “this disease is not taking the summer months off. We’re not there yet. We won’t be there. Be mindful as well of variants and so we’ve never said we’re going to consider some modifications post-June 15.”
If the state of emergency remains in place, it would allow Newsom to reinstate lockdown restrictions as he sees fit. California has been under a state of emergency since March 2020 with Newsom issuing around 50 executive orders to alter or suspend state laws and regulations.
A statement from his office suggested the state of emergency ensures the state can continue to quickly respond to evolving conditions as the pandemic persists. Although, the state’s Republicans were quick to denounce the move, saying if Newsom believes the state is safe to reopen, then its safe for people to make decisions for themselves.
Newsom continues to face a recall election in the fall amid a falling approval rating which has dropped from 64 percent to 52 percent since Sept. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who is running against Newsom in the recall election, took to Twitter to say that other states have been safely open for months, but Newsom refuses to follow the science and suggested it’s time to recall him.
While California is slated to lift health restrictions, many businesses, particularly restaurants, continue to struggle. California’s Restaurant Association said as many as one million restaurant jobs were lost in the state, while nearly a third of the state’s restaurants permanently closed. Owners say they don’t have enough staff with so many people still collecting unemployment benefits.