Gavin Newsom once again declines to show evidence newly closed businesses contribute to virus spread


For the second time in five days, California Gov. Gavin Newsom did not provide evidence that businesses ordered to close during the state’s new stay-at-home order are actively contributing to the spread of the coronavirus.

On Monday, Newsom held another press conference and was once again asked to explain himself to small businesses that must now close.

“We’ve heard from so many of people whose businesses are being shut down by some of these orders, who are really frustrated that they feel like they have not seen enough evidence that point to outdoor restaurants spreading COVID in a major way, hair salons, nail salons spreading COVID in a major way,” Fox 11’s Elex Michaelson told the governor. “I’m wondering what you say to these people who say, ‘Look, I’ve done everything you’ve asked, I’ve followed the rules, I spent a lot of money on PPP, my staff is on the brink of losing their jobs, we’re on the brink of losing our business, it’s the holiday season.’ What do you say to these people who are really desperate and confused and angry right now?”

“I said it Friday, I said it Monday, I’ll say it again today,” Newsom replied. “I’m deeply empathetic and deeply committed to advancing the cause of supporting our small businesses in this challenging and trying time.”

The governor did not provide the evidence business owners are asking for, or commit to making any data available in the future. He pivoted to touting the state making new tax credits and relief grants available to small businesses during this new stay-at-home order, although some have scoffed at this proposal.


“He says he’s going to give help to small businesses, but has expanded [the program] to cultural institutions, nonprofits and a bunch of other groups, so what, are we all going to get like $11?” said Rory Cox, founder of the newly formed San Francisco Small Business Alliance. “It’s like come on, man. You can’t expect us to shut down and not help us.”

Studies have suggested that activities such as indoor dining and working out at an indoor gym do spread the virus, but restaurant and personal care service owners have yet to see satisfactory data from state and local officials supporting bans on outdoor dining and masked indoor activities.

“There does seem to be some evidence that indoor dining may pose a risk to some people,” said Tony Granieri, owner of the Oakland restaurants Brotzeit Lokal and the now-shuttered Magpie. “That said, there is no conclusive evidence that outdoor dining does. It actually seems these sorts of Draconian measures are pushing people into unsafe situations in private homes where safety guidelines cannot be guaranteed, enforced or even expected.”

“One of the most frustrating parts is you listen to any state or county press conference where they present reams and reams of data, and hear about how they’re data driven, how many people tested positive, how many people are in the hospital, and that they’re contact tracing,” said Julian Skinner, owner of The Style Bar, a hair salon in Greenbrae. “But when you ask why some sectors are closed and others open, we get general answers back and not data answers.”



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