A total of three counties in California so far have announced that they are defying Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home orders and restrictions on nonessential business, and are re-opening the economy, with more rumored to be joining them.
Last week, anti-lockdown protests would pop up all across the state of California, right after Newsom announced that he was closing down beaches, and it's now brought up questions of how much more voluntary compliance he'll get from Californians -- especially with unemployment skyrocketing, people getting irritated being forced to stay home and quarantine measures increasingly becoming politicized.
The first county to defy Newsom's orders was Modoc County. Last Thursday, they would announce a re-opening of many venues that would happen the next day on Friday that included restaurants, bars and churches. Modoc County is on California's border with Oregon, and is a small, rural and conservative district with 9,600 residents. As of May 2, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county.
Modoc County isn't the only locality defying the governor's statewide orders, as both Sutter and Yuba County would make their announcements a day later on Friday saying they were re-opening their economies on Monday. Both of the counties will allow shopping malls, restaurants, gyms, hair salons, tattoo parlors and many other venues to reopen their doors -- combined, they have 170,000 citizens with 50 confirmed COVID-19 cases, along with three deaths, as of May 2.
State lawmakers located in the region have praised the defiance towards Governor Newsom. In particular, Assemblyman James Gallagher stated "there is no longer any justification for [Newsom's] executive order as it pertains to our communities," and that he is "optimistic that other counties will soon follow."
If Newsom decides to enforce his stay-at-home orders, its unclear how exactly he would enforce them. However, it is clear that pressure is growing on his administration to lower the restrictions from his policies. And if he doesn't, some people -- especially conservatives who are already skeptical of COVID-19 and a possible agenda that's being pushed from it -- could unload even more pressure.
PROTESTS ARE BREAKING OUT LEFT AND RIGHT IN CALIFORNIA
Some of the heat that Newsom is getting hit with is in the form of anti-lockdown protesters.
Like's what happened all across the United States of America, California has joined the fold with multiple protests breaking out all across the state over the last few weeks to protest the lockdown. Last Friday, protests would escalate even further, with people showing in multiple areas of the state, including San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego and Orange County's Huntington Beach. With the Huntington Beach protest in particular, city police would report that nearly 3,000 people showed up.
The demonstrators would protest Newsom's overreach of power as unacceptable, and they would violate his social distancing guidelines by forming tight crowds.
“I served in the army and fought tyrants and dictators overseas and this has gone too far,” a Huntington Beach protester said to the Los Angeles Times. “I didn’t do that to come back here and live under a tyrant in my own country.”
Thousands of people, also ignoring orders to wear face masks, would attend the protest in Sacramento at the state capitol to demand an end to lockdown restrictions on businesses. Some would also hold signs questioning whether COVID-19 was even real, and others were making arguments against vaccines.
Last Friday, Newsom would respond in a press conference:
“We’re all impatient and we’re deeply anxious and deeply desirous to start to turn the page and turn the corner,” said Newsom. “The data is starting to give us more confidence.”
Newsom would also state that California's reopening could be quicker than he had anticipated, saying that it could happen in "many days, not weeks."
“We’re getting very close to making very meaningful augmentations to that stay-at-home order,” said Newsom. “We said ‘weeks, not months’ about four or five days ago. I want to say ‘many days, not weeks.’ As long as we continue to be prudent and thoughtful in certain modifications, I think we’ll be making some announcements.”