Community reflects on Newsom’s lifting of stay-at-home order for California residents

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Photo credit: Photo credit: Jeswin Thomas from Unsplash.com, licensed for reuse.

A chef at a local restaurant prepares a meal while adjusting his mask. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the current stay-at-home order and extended the curfew for California residents. Because of this, restaurants, religious groups and other activities are now able to take place.

By Vaughan Anoa'i, News Editor

As the surge of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in California and vaccine distribution has begun throughout the United States, Governor Gavin Newsom made the executive decision to lift the current stay-at-home order and extend the curfew for residents. The cancellation of this mandated order makes way for the return of “limited restaurant dining, religious services and other activities,” according to CBS News.  Governor Newsom announced this decision on Monday, Jan. 25 as he took note of the “improving conditions” within the California area, even though there are currently 3.23 million cases in the state as a whole, and 1.09 million in Los Angeles specifically. Following his announcement, California residents felt “surprised” by Newsom’s decision to lift the stay-at-home order and extend the curfew, according to English teacher Kathleen Bergen.

“From everything that I’ve heard, our rates of infection and death toll in California have been on the rise and not on the decline, so I was certainly concerned about that,” Bergen said in a recent interview. “I think it’s really more of an economic decision than a decision based on health.”

Echoing Bergen’s sentiment, senior Ava Salomon describes her initial reaction to Newsom’s announcement as well as the consequences that she felt will come out of this decision.

“Honestly, I was pretty shocked because, as much as I would love to be able to go out and I wish life would return to normal, I think it’s way too early to allow people to start going back out to restaurants,” Salomon said. “The cases are still pretty bad, and people are dying every hour.”

The cancellation of the mandated stay-at-home order directly affects restaurants and small business owners, as the previous order did not allow restaurants to be open to the public. However, their re-opening also comes with the risk of higher infection rates and an even larger spike in cases as well.

Even though small businesses and restaurants really are struggling, and I see that and I feel for them, it still feels like a difficult move because of how many people are still sick in our area,” sophomore Mia Ronn said.

Coming off of the recent holiday season, COVID-19 cases have only increased further, and with this new announcement from Newsom, “the threat” has only heightened for California residents, according to Bergen.

“I think that it will probably lead to an increase in cases because part of the reason why we’re having issues is that people aren’t obeying the order that’s in place and so now if there isn’t an order in place, it gives some many more people the opportunity to make poor decisions and increase the threat,” Bergen said.

In regards to timing and the implementation of vaccines, Ronn described the “shock” she experienced in relation to how quickly the announcement came into fruition for Californians.

I was a bit surprised by how quickly it came,” Ronn said. “I did start to notice that as vaccines were coming out that people were starting to kind of exhale, but I think it may be premature.”

Commenting on the necessity of restaurants being open to the public, Salomon felt that only “vital institutions” should be open during this time, for outdoor dining has alternatives that do not require gathering in public and risking one’s own or another’s life.

“I feel only very vital institutions such as grocery stores, doctor’s offices obviously with precautions and such, should be open,” Salomon said. “I feel like restaurants are not a necessity in this time, and Postmates, even though it can be pricey for some people, which it is, it is still available in a lockdown situation.”

Looking to the future, as restaurants have begun to re-open and California residents are permitted to gather publicly, Ronn comments on how she thinks teenagers will react to Newsom’s announcements.

“I think we follow the example of the people in charge typically. I know a lot of people are probably going to see this lifted and be like, ‘Oh well, everything’s okay, I can go back out and do whatever I want if the adults say it’s okay,'” Ronn said. “But I’ve also heard people say on social media, ‘Please do not take this lifting of the stay at home order as, I can go out and party and do what I want because we’re still at a very dangerous point.'”