California Governor Gavin Newsom announced at press conference today a new round of closures that will shut down a majority of indoor activities and businesses throughout the state.
Shopping malls, gyms, nail salons, indoor dining, wineries, theaters, zoos, museums, bars, places of worship, and other entertainment centers are forbidden from conducting business indoors. Some of these businesses, like movie theaters, will have to close entirely again; some, like restaurants and wineries, will pivot to a partially-open status via outdoor seating and to-go service.
Bars will take the brunt of this mandate, as they are not permitted to operate even if they can offer outdoor service and seating. At the end of June, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, identified bars as a top culprit of COVID-19 spread and asked Americans to stop going to them.
No deadline or length of time was given for the new closures, so we can expect them to be in effect for at least a couple weeks. Most likely, they will reflect the number of coronavirus cases in the state, which as of now continues to rise.
What does this mean for travel? The announcement by Newsom did not directly address hotels or other segments of the tourism industry, though they obviously will be effected. Hotels will have to pare down their restaurants and close their bars; while things like outdoor pools are still allowed to operate, they will no doubt be under increased scrutiny. You can expect the energy in hotels to reflect these new regulations in the coming weeks as they adjust.
While the restrictions may be the right move for public health, the appeal of traveling to California has certainly taken a hit. But not entirely. California boasts a wonderful, endless collection of outdoor ecosystems, from the ocean to the mountains to the deserts, as well as consistently good weather that makes it easy to stay outside.
Visiting a winery with no indoor seating might not be a problem at all, for example, and if your goal is to hike and relax, it may be just as easy to do so by taking advantage of to-go services. It could be the perfect time to visit smaller communities along the shores or in the mountains, like those found along the central and northern coasts, where the focus is on the outdoors.
Things in the big cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, however, will obviously lose a lot of their luster, as much of the cities’ core appeal – dining, museums, concerts, and events – will not be available.