NEWSOM imposes tougher COVID measures after Supreme Court orders judges to review California restrictions on places of worship


The California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a regional order of home visits on Thursday as the state reported a further 18,591 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the state’s Department of Health.

The Governor’s new plan will take effect for those regions of California where ICU capacity falls below 15 percent. Residents in these areas are expected to stay at home for three weeks as bars and personal care services close. Restaurants will be supplied only for take-away and retail outlets will be at 20 percent capacity.

Although no area of the state currently has such a serious hospital condition, health officials said some areas could reach the threshold this week.

As of December 3, California has reported more than 1 million cases of corona virus and over 19,000 deaths.

During a press conference on Thursday, Newsom said that in the last 14 days, thousands of Californians have lost their lives to the virus.

“We are pulling the emergency brake,” Newsom said.

“If we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” he added.

Los Angeles is already under strict lockdown by Mayor Eric Garcetti, who on Tuesday banned public and private gatherings of people from more than one household. Residents were instructed to refrain from all non-essential activities.

Despite last week’s Supreme Court rulings against nationwide restrictions, Newsom does not appear to plan to relax its coronavirus restrictions.

Hours before announcing the launch of its regional home care plan, the Supreme Court ordered federal judges in California to re-examine the governor’s capacity limits for indoor worship.

The Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church had asked the court to lift Newsom’s ban on indoor worship on the grounds that it was unconstitutional to restrict religious freedom.

A week ago, Judge Amy Coney Barrett played her first decisive role since her confirmation before the Supreme Court, joining the majority in a 5-4 decision that lifted restrictions on churches and synagogues in New York City ordered by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In a brief, unsigned order, the court on Thursday called on California judges to reconsider Newsom’s restrictions on worship services, which are even more severe than Cuomo’s.

The order contradicts earlier decisions affecting churches in the state. In late May, while Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg was still sitting on the bench, the high court rejected a similar challenge to religious freedom. Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote, allowing state officials to set capacity limits to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Newsom’s new announcement of the closure, religious institutions would be restricted to outdoor worship services only.

The governor said he would divide California into five geographic regions-the Bay Area, Southern California, Greater Sacramento, Joaquin Valley and Northern California.

The mayor of Pasadena, Terry Tornek, told Washington Newsday that he was disappointed with the direction the court was taking and that he supported the decision by Newsom and other state health officials.

He said the city met with religious groups at the beginning of the pandemic to inform them about how COVID-19 could affect churches and other places of worship.

“Early on we met with ministers and talked to them about the realities of this virus and the dangers it posed to their parishioners. The vast majority of churches in the city, large and small, have worked with us very well,” Tornek said.

“They really did their best to educate their parishioners about what this is all about, but we have a few exceptions,” he added, referring to Harvest Rock Church.

The mayor said that although the governor’s regulations could be stricter, he hoped that many churchgoers would still take extra precautions when it comes to exercising their faith.

“I think, frankly, that no matter what the courts have to say, most churches will continue to follow the guidelines we have established,” Tornek said. “In addition, I believe that most citizens will be suspicious if they go back in as large numbers as was suggested.

Washington Newsday turned to Newsom’s office for comment, but did not hear a response prior to publication.


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