Gavin Newsom's New Stay-at-Home Order a 'Deathblow' to California's Small Businesses

The governor's latest order dials up restrictions on whole swaths of California's economy in an effort to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.


Most of California will be going back into March-style lockdowns following the issuance of a new public health order from Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) that closes large swaths of the economy in regions hardest hit by COVID-19 and places tougher restrictions on businesses allowed to remain open.

The goal of the governor's new stay-at-home order—which applies to any of the five newly demarcated regions of the state where hospitals' intensive care unit (ICU) capacity is below 15 percent—is to stem the rise in new cases, and prevent the state's health care system from being overwhelmed.

But critics say Newsom's order is full of arbitrary restrictions that will damage small business owners while doing little to stem the spread of the pandemic.

"We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California's hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks," said Newsom in a press release. "By invoking a Stay at Home Order for regions where ICU capacity falls below 15 percent, we can flatten the curve as we've done before and reduce stress on our health care system."

Under the governor's order, a raft of new restrictions automatically snaps into place once a region falls below that 15 percent ICU capacity threshold.

That includes the total closure of personal service businesses like nail salons and barber shops, as well as bars, museums, and movie theaters. Restaurants must also cease on-site dining (indoor and outdoor) and switch over to takeout and delivery only. Retailers can be open only at 20 percent capacity. Churches are limited to outdoor service only. Hotels are closed to tourists.

This new order is even more restrictive than the four-tiered, county-by-county reopening framework that Newsom had previously imposed. Under that system, even the most restrictive tier allowed for open nail salons, outdoor dining, and retail to operate at 25 percent capacity.

In a Thursday press conference, Newsom said that he expects four of the state's five regions—Southern California, Northern California, the San Joaquin Valley, and Greater Sacramento—will all have to adopt these restrictions within about a week. The Bay Area will get there in late December, he said.

Once imposed, the restrictions found in the stay-at-home order will remain in place for at least three weeks. They'll be extended so long as spare ICU capacity in a region is projected to be below 15 percent.

The reaction from business groups to Newsom's order has been mixed.

"It's better than being closed," says Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association, of the new 20 percent capacity limit on retail businesses. The fear, she says, was that retailers who'd already had to close down once during the pandemic would have to shut their doors again during the busy holiday shopping season.

"Obviously we'd love to have a higher capacity limit but we're grateful that our doors, particularly for our smaller retailers in California, can remain open," Michelin tells Reason.

Other business advocates are a little gloomier.

"This will be a devastating deathblow to already fragile, uncertain, and terrified small business owners," says John Kabateck, California director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), citing a survey of NFIB members who report that if economic conditions don't improve by early 2021, a full 20 percent of them will close permanently.

As of November 16, the number of small businesses open in California had declined by 31 percent from January. That's an improvement from April when nearly half of all small businesses in the state were closed. It's nevertheless worse than the 29 percent of small businesses that are closed nationwide.

"A 20 percent rule has a much different effect on small family business than that of a big-box corporate retailer," says Kabateck. "Removing 80 percent of a small retailer's selling space is as good as shutting down the small retailer…We want to see the science saying that retail commerce is the cause of the COVID surge."

Kabateck does credit Newsom for announcing several measures to assist smaller companies earlier this week, including $500 million in grants for distressed businesses and a three-month extension of the deadline for paying sales taxes.

A better solution would be a full reopening of small retailers coupled with social distancing guidelines, he says.

In addition to condemnation from business groups, Newsom's latest stay-at-home order is sparking resistance from local officials and state legislators.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has told reporters that his deputies won't be enforcing the governor's new order, and will instead stick to policing "super spreader" events.

The sheriffs in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange counties have made similar comments.

"We've had the worst, most severe business restrictions. We had among the worst, most severe school closures. Yet we're still at a point where the governor says the situation is so dire, we need to take these radical measures," says Assembly Member Kevin Kiley (R–Rocklin). "Maybe it's time to rethink our approach."

When the California Legislature convenes on Monday, Kiley says he will be introducing a series of bills aimed at reopening the state and paring back the governor's emergency powers.

That will include one bill reopening schools in the state, and another one preventing state agencies from revoking licenses for businesses that violated pandemic restrictions unless that agency can prove a business was responsible for COVID-19 transmission.

Ultimately, Kiley says, legislators need to take a more proactive role in determining what kinds of pandemic-related restrictions should be adopted, rather than let the governor craft regulations unilaterally.

"I want to see the legislature start to actually vote on these policies. We should have a vote on whether having a lockdown or stay-at-home order is a good idea," he tells Reason. "The people of California deserve to have a representative process when it comes to these issues of such profound importance to their lives."

Business owners working with the libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit back in October challenging Newsom's last round of business restrictions on the grounds that he was usurping the state legislature's authority.

So far, businesses have mostly taken Newsom's various pandemic regulations on the chin. The more restrictive these regulations become, however, the less patience they'll likely have for the governor's central planning schemes.

NEXT: The Wilds Updates Lord of the Flies for Gen Z

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Public health officials don’t care. They only care about optimizing their case number spreadsheets.

    Every one of the public health and government people get a full paycheck every week regardless of the suffering they cause to everyone else.

    1. I am now making extra $19k or more every month from home by doing very simple and easy job online from home. Anh I have received exactly $20845 last month from this home job. Join now this job and start making extra cash online by follow instruction on the given
      website…….. Visit Here

    2. I get paid 75 bucks each hour for work at home on my PC. I never thought I’d have the option to do it however my old buddy is gain 14k/month to month by carrying out this responsibility and she gave me how. USA ONLINE JOBS

    3. No masks or social distancing mandates here in Georgia.

      Our businesses and schools are open.

      Georgians are doing great.

  2. Wrong within normal parameters?

    1. Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its ain easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page…..work92/7 online

  3. “in an effort to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed”

    That’s a good enough reason for me. Safety first.


    1. PS — California is what we Koch / Reason libertarians ultimately want all 50 states to look like. High degree of racial diversity, high degree of economic inequality, single-party Democratic control. We should be focusing our criticism on the Republican governors in GA, FL, etc. who have really mishandled the pandemic.


      1. #DemocratsAreViruses

      2. Great satire.


        Strong medicine needed to wipe out cancer. What sort of antivirus could cleanse the planet of statists?

        1. The type that is injected from a barrel. Make sure to save and recycle the brass to please the environmentalists.

    2. USNS Mercy is homeported in San Diego. Move it to LA, and it will stay empty, just like USNS Comfort was in NYC.

      1. It was in long beach for weeks back in March/April.

    3. Do the math. 13% of hospital beds in California are occupied by Covid-19 patients. 30% of ICU beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients. Data from reliable sources including the California Department of Health. They are getting really good at stampeding people by using numbers without context and false assertions of the efficacy of what they are doing. If lock downs worked to stop any virus, we should be seeing no Covid cases, no flu cases and pneumonia cases. The only ones we are seeing are Covid cases because everyone who sneezes has Covid.

  4. “Gavin Newsom’s New Stay-at-Home Order a ‘Deathblow’ to California’s Small Businesses”

    So were the lockdowns by mostly Democrat Governors, County Execs and Mayors during the past nine months.

    But Reason didn’t criticize those unconstitutional, unscientific, nonlibertarian and economically disastrous lockdowns because they were too busy trashing Trump and campaigning for Biden.

    1. Is it true he issued his commandment from the table at one of his favorite on-high eating establishments?

      1. “One of you will betray me…”

    2. It’s only a lockdown if you aren’t the right sort of people-

      1. re: video link
        Arkansas has NEVER had a mask mandate / full lockdown. Folks here take the 2nd Amendment to heart.

        1. Same with georgia.

  5. He’s doing this so he can demand a union/pension bailout and then blame Covid,

  6. Reason’s presidential candidate now plans to bully Americans into wearing ineffective virtue signaling face diapers for 100 days next year (likely after herd immunity has been achieved).

    1. I am actually starting to get worried that they are intentionally trying to kill the economy. We will find out for sure after Biden gets sworn in.

  7. Newsom’s order is full of arbitrary restrictions that will damage small business owners while doing little to stem the spread of the pandemic.

    This is the purpose. Or do people really think everyone else is so dumb that only they see the obvious consequences that will happen as a result?

    1. Small business owners tend to be Republicans, and less willing to sway to woke pressure from Twitter compared to big companies (who California is forcing to go woke on their corporate boards now)

  8. Sending these people to gitmo is the moderate position.

    1. Pushing them out of a helicopter over gitmo is the moderate position.

      1. Until either of you, and the rest of us, become serious about such things they’ll keep doing it.

    2. I agree with you, but not completely.
      So let’s take them to Gitmo, but let them out of the plane before they are completely there.

      1. let them out of the plane before they are completely there

        I don’t know – dropping them over the island seems more effective than dropping them in the water.

  9. Yeah it`s Possible…Anybody can earn 250$+ daily… You can earn from 6000-12000 a month or even more if you work as a full time job…It’s easy, just follow instructions on this page, read it carefully from start to finish… It’s a flexible job but a good
    eaning opportunity.. Here is More information.

  10. Is California is a “certificate of need” state? In other words, to what degree is the shortage of hospital beds self-inflicted?

    1. Shhh. Don’t explain the obvious; that ICU beds is a self-set, arbitrary number that can be expanded, as necessary. That will ruin the “ICUs are nearly 100% capacity” narrative.

    2. Is California is a “certificate of need” state?

      No. We eschew such obvious protectionism.

      We filter our protectionism through the building code.

      1. And I notice that page puts it all right out front with their flagship hospital being the UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center. Jacobs, one of the biggest and best-connected engineering firms in the country, does a lot of these.

        You see, any middle-brow state can restrict an economic sector through Certificates of Need – it takes a grand state like California to combine it with public construction cronyism.

  11. Back in the day Californians recalled a governor over some electrical blackouts. Now they stand by as their liberal left wing democrat governor torches their state with fascist rules and oh yeah some electric blackouts.


    1. you left out literally torching the state through forest mismanagement

      1. And my mother’s town, which is in the Santa Ana Mountains where you could count the trees on one hand, is burning down right now because Southern CA Edison did a “public safety power shutoff” which people in small towns like hers now deal with by running generators when the power goes off, and some jackoff’s generator sparked and started a house fire which has now spread to thousands of acres.

        And I was just telling her about two weeks ago that all those generators were a way bigger fire hazard than Edison’s transformers.

        If Gavin isn’t run out of the state by an angry mob within the next several months I’m going to start thinking there’s something wrong with this place.

        1. You’re going to “START” thinking there’s something wrong with California?

          1. I may.

        2. Don’t worry, he can name himself Senator Newsom and head of to DC

    2. Supposedly n ewsome has a recall effort against him. The media isnt reporting on it.

  12. Ten states have now surpassed a 6% covid positive rate, and another ten states will likely exceed that level by next week.

    Since studies have found/estimated that 3 – 10 times more Americans have already had the covid virus (than have tested positive for it), it appears that 15% – 35% of Americans are now immune from covid, and we are well on our way to achieving herd immunity (without vaccines).

    By the time January 20 occurs, many communities, counties and states will have likely achieved herd immunity.

    So there will be no reason for Joe Biden’s mask mandate (except to train the sheeple masses to do what Biden commands).

    Besides, masks (except for N95) have been proven ineffective for protecting people from covid transmissions.

    1. Yeah, I don’t know why people think that masks will be the magic ingredient. I’m sure they probably do occasionally catch some virus laden spittle that might otherwise have gone in someone’s eye or something. But they clearly don’t do much to slow infections. Look at countries that have had mandates for long periods with high compliance. They are having the same seasonal increase as everywhere else in the temperate north. And Sweden which never recommended masks for anyone is doing a lot better than many European countries that have been masked for months.

      1. Sweden isn’t doing awesome though.

        1. Their people are free. That’s plenty awesome.

          1. Thank you.


          Downside of the curve looks awesome to me.

          1. Hmm.
            Practically no restrictions and close to the results of those places with restrictions.
            You’re restriction boner is showing.

        3. You link missed your comment. Everything I’ve read shows that Sweden isn’t have a second round of COVID. If you’re reading otherwise, please share with the class.

        4. Sweden is fine. Death rate still <1%.

          The media is just tired of hearing about sweden being a success story, so they are lying…again.

          Plus restricted countries have their residents flee to sweden, so those nonswedes who are infected are being counted.

          Same shit in geiorgia. A bunch of out of staters come to georgia from commifornia and such bringing a mutated virus with them. Some of the commies get shot in the face trying to tell georgians to wear a mask.

      2. Because masks are a public display that we’re all doing our part to Build Back Better under the New Normal.

        1. I feel like you don’t want to Build Back Better. I hope that’s not true.

          1. I want the Dems to Build Back Bitter

        2. you left out the Great Reset

    2. By the time January 20 occurs, many communities, counties and states will have likely achieved herd immunity.

      Exactly. If the timing goes right, it will still be with us come Jan 20, but will be gone 100 days later, proving that Biden was right to do a national mask mandate.

      1. “, many communities, counties and states will have likely achieved herd immunity.”

        You’re dreaming, that implies a 6)% to 70% infection in a population

  13. Finally, my paycheck is $ 8,500? A working 10 hours per week online. My brother’s friend had an average of 12K for several months, he work about 22 hours a week. I can not believe how easy it is, once I try to do so. This is what I do.. Here is More information.

  14. To see how absolutely arbitrary these rules are, take a look at the “Regions” that Newsance designated.

    “Southern California” includes two counties that run on the eastern border, far north. Kern County, whose major city Bakersfield is less than 2 hours from Los Angeles is NOT part of “Southern California” while, Mono County- whose major city is Bridgeport, 6 hours away- somehow IS part of Southern CA?

    Why in the hell should the availability of hospital beds 6 hours away in a city further north than San Francisco play any part in determining whether Southern California shuts down? It is total, arbitrary lunacy masquerading as “Having a plan”.

    1. Totalitarianism, not lunacy.

  15. If Newsome feels it’s safe enough to go out and eat at restaurants, then who the fuck am I to argue? French Laundry, here I come!

    1. Snails to go.

  16. “When a new session of the California Legislature begins on Monday, Kiley says he will be introducing a series of bills aimed at reopening the state and paring back the governor’s emergency powers.”
    It has become obvious that well meaning state legislatures in decades and centuries past, have left statutes in place that allow authoritarian executives to become tyrants. In most states judges have read these statutes to allow virtually any assault on liberty.
    Just as our federal legislators have ceded their powers and responsibilities to executive agencies, state legislators are allowing governors, mayors and bureaucrats to destroy the liberty and livelihoods of millions because they don’t want to face the screeching Karens. Its time for these cowards in every every state to step up and shut this shitshow down.

    1. in this case the governor is the screeching Karen

  17. Business owners are “grateful” they can still stay open at 20% capacity? Why aren’t they marching on Sacramento?

  18. Whew, I’m sure everyone is delighted to have Biden and these Democrats taking over completely in January. At least we will no longer have to worry about the President tweeting mean things! Giving the Democrats control of the Presidency (and probably the senate as well after the Georgia run-off) means we really dodged a bullet there.

    The 100 day mask mandate will make the virus disappear, the gun tax will reduce crime in inner cities, and the student loan debt forgiveness will make Starbucks coffer servers independently wealthy and stimulate the economy. Good times ahead!

    1. Huge relief. All of those troop withdrawals and peace deals and deregulation were really making me feel unsafe.

      1. I was getting pretty worried about having money to spend, and places to go to spend it.

    2. Yes, our long national nightmare with tweets is over!
      Why it looked as if several shits-with-TDS who post here were going expire from fainting spells!

  19. >>once a region falls below that 15 percent ICU capacity threshold

    California you are being trolled.

  20. “But critics say Newsom’s order is full of arbitrary restrictions that will damage small business owners while doing little to stem the spread of the pandemic.”

    Big business rejoices at the destruction of most of their competition. Large political donations to follow.

    1. You sort of missed the unions; check the donation ratios.

  21. I note well that the Gabbling Nuisance has NOT provided any real statistics or counts to back up his push.

    What does “case” mean? A positive PCR test? If, at what number of cycles do they run the tests before deciding whether pos or neg? If its more than 25 or 30, they’re falsly padding the “case” numbers.

    What percentage of ICU occupants and ER occupants are there BECAUSE of the WuFlu? Or are so many there because of other reasons?
    This newest fatwa sounds a whole lot like the last ineffective ones. Its just one more opportunity for him to shove his big foot up the backsides of resdents of his state.

    Further, since there are so many hundreds/thousands of HOMELESS occupying hotel rooms, perhaps those travelling from other states and, for whatever reason, want to stay in a hotel, I suppose their best option is to declare themselves homeless, and stay anyway. Offer to pay on the way out….

    And what is the difference, from an epidemiological standoint, between sitting on a park bench eating your burg and fries, and sitting ona bench on the patio outsside at the same place that cooked and assembled that burg?

    This clown is a powerhungry contrl freak. But then, checking the most recent version of the DSM, that’s one of the leading characteristics of those who prefer certain proclivities of physical intimacy as does this character. So no real suprise there.

  22. “The goal of the governor’s new stay-at-home order—which applies to any of the five newly demarcated regions of the state where hospitals’ intensive care unit (ICU) capacity is below 15 percent—is to stem the rise in new cases, and prevent the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed.”

    So far, CA has had nearly 20,000 Mao Tse Lung deaths, despite no shortfalls in hospital capacity.

    Here’s the hypothetical: assume hospital care has been denied to all MTL patients. How many MTL deaths would there have been?

    The right number to worry about isn’t the 20,000 hospital care *didn’t* save, but rather the number it did save.

    Because the magnitude of that difference is the only justification for the increased restrictions.

    Funny that Newsom hasn’t seen fit to tell us.

  23. Most of us agree that lockdowns aren’t the right way to address this pandemic, but the good thing about living in America is the sheriffs already say they’re really not going to enforce it, and the rule is weakly written such that people can do whatever they want as long as they have a reasonable claim it’s essential. This is why it’s nice to have decentralized government.

    1. This is true to a degree, but the SF restaurants offering ‘outdoor’ dining have occasionally found the definition (like a tent or such) to vary depending on, perhaps a comp’d meal.
      This is an invitation for corruption for exactly the same reasons as exist with any centrally-planned economy.

    2. Mask mandates are blatantly unconstitutional. So are business shutdowns. The government can regulate business not cause them ti disappear with arbitrary dictates.

  24. So why the fuck hasn’t every state been building more hospital capacity in the past 9 months?!?

    1. There is also flexibility in the designation “ICU room”.
      Most hospitals CAN create larger ICU capacity, but why would they bother, when the government isn’t encouraging any such thing.

  25. One more step in making the public subservient to, and dependent on, the State.

  26. From those of us living under this regime in California – Fuck YOU Newsome! Maybe you should quit and find something you’re good at; like gay porn?

  27. Amazing article.
    Thanks for info satta matka keep it up

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.