What a coinky-dink: Newsom to lift outdoor eating ban -- just as recall effort on brink of success

The outdoor eating ban could soon be history — perhaps just a little sooner than Gavin Newsom’s political career. ABC’s San Francisco affiliate reported last night that Newsom will lift the statewide stay-at-home order that has done little to curb the transmission of COVID-19. It has, however, reminded everyone what a bad choice they made for governor:

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to lift California’s strict stay-at-home orders he imposed on much of the state in December.

In a letter to restaurant owners, the California Restaurant Association says sources tell them that officials with Gov. Newsom’s office plan to lift the stay-at-home orders in all regions of the state on Monday.

Golden Gate Restaurant Association President Laurie Thomas says she’s “optimistic outdoor dining will resume by the end of the week.” …

The stay-at-home order closed bars, wineries, nail salons, hair salons and barbershops, and other personal care services. Private gatherings of any size were prohibited, although enforcement of that has been inconsistent. Restaurants had to shut down in-person dining, even outdoors but were allowed to continue takeout and delivery.

The Los Angeles Times followed up this morning with more details on what will reopen. The order might not apply immediately to Los Angeles itself, however:

All counties will return to the colored tier system that assigns local risk levels based on case numbers and rates of positive test results for coronavirus infections, according to sources briefed on the plan by the governor’s office.

Most counties will go into the “widespread” risk tier, which permits hair salons to offer limited services indoors but restricts many other nonessential indoor business operations. The change is expected to take effect immediately after Newsom’s announcement on Monday.

It’s far from clear whether the decision will lead to easing of stay-at-home rules in Los Angeles County, which has become a national epicenter of the coronavirus with hospitals overwhelmed by patients. In less than one month, more than 5,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the county alone.

Still, the outdoor dining ban has been highly controversial, with some elected officials and the restaurant industry fighting in court and out to overturn it. Officials in some other Southern California counties have been even more critical of the state-imposed rules and had urged Newsom to give them more local control.

In what is surely an entirely unrelated development, Ed Driscoll points out at Instapundit that Californians have nearly enough petition signatures to force a recall election against Newsom:

A recall campaign to oust California Gov. Gavin Newsom is nearing its required threshold to qualify for a statewide ballot.

Over the weekend, recall organizers said they have collected 1.2 million of the 1.5 million signatures needed by March 17 to qualify for a ballot. ….

San Diego’s KUSI reported Saturday that California’s secretary of state has confirmed 84% of the signatures collected so far are valid.

This has been percolating for quite a while, but Newsom’s orders over the last few months have surely accelerated the petition effort. Californians are now demanding to know what science supported the idea of banning outdoor venues in a warm-weather state, especially since Florida didn’t — and has had a far lower transmission problem as a result. Locking people into their homes likely forced people to gather indoors to socialize, making the transmission problem worse, and data before and during Newsom’s lockdown order indicate that family gatherings and travel are much more likely culprits for transmission than properly distanced outdoor venues.

Maybe Newsom has better data, but his refusal to share it leads people to the opposite conclusion, as the AP reported on Friday. Another coinky-dink?

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has from the start said his coronavirus policy decisions would be driven by data shared with the public to provide maximum transparency.

But with the state starting to emerge from its worst surge, his administration won’t disclose key information that will help determine when his latest stay-at-home order is lifted.

State health officials said they rely on a very complex set of measurements that would confuse and potentially mislead the public if they were made public.

Dr. Lee Riley, chairman of the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health infectious disease division, disagreed.

“There is more uncertainty created by NOT releasing the data that only the state has access to,” he said in an email. Its release would allow outside experts to assess its value for projecting trends and the resulting decisions on lifting restrictions, he wrote.

The biggest public-health disaster in California is clearly COVID-19, but Newsom himself is not far behind. Newsom seems intent on proving that through his sudden reversal on the lockdown coming on the heels of this scrutiny, as well as the recall effort, along with his refusal to share the justifications for the lockdowns in the first place. Those aren’t coincidences at all, but the machinations of a political hack in far over his head. That’s the only thing that’s fully transparent about the Newsom era.