Mammoth restaurants ordered to close indoor dining rooms, State announces regional Stay Home order

Town Manager Dan Holler retracted a grace period for indoor dining after previously saying he was okay with defying state orders; Gov. Gavin Newsom announces new regional stay-at-home order

Just two days after Mono County was reassigned to the most restrictive purple tier, Gov. Gavin Newsom today announced metrics and restrictions for the new Stay Home order, which will be implemented regionally when ICUs reach less than 15% capacity. 

Earlier this week, the governor presented grim projections showing that California’s hospital system would reach capacity by mid-December or early-January without additional mitigation.

“The bottom line is, if we don’t act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said in press briefing today. “If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see our death rate climb and more lives lost.”

Inyo and Mono counties have been grouped with the Southern California. Regionally ICUs in Southern California currently have 20% capacity remaining.

The new Stay Home order restricts non-essential travel and tourism lodging, personal services and salons must close, and retail will be limited to 20% capacity. Restaurants must close outdoor service and are only permitted to serve takeaway or delivery. Outdoor recreational facilities including ski resorts and ice rinks can operate without food, drink or alcohol sales. Additionally, overnight stays at campgrounds will not be permitted.

Once the regional order is issued, it will take effect within 24 hours* and last for three weeks minimum. When ICU projections improve, counties will be reassigned to the appropriate tier based on local cases and positivity rate. 

*Initially the state said 48 hours, but according to the executive order it will effective within 24 hours.

Some regions could see the new mitigation efforts as soon as the next few days, Newsom said. For now, Mono County is in the most restrictive purple tier for widespread infection, while Inyo remains in the red tier. 

Learn more: About the new Regional Stay Home order

Following Mono County’s tier reassignment on Tuesday, Mammoth Lakes Town Manager Dan Holler told restaurant owners that they could continue indoor restaurant operations for a few more days, despite the state public health order and tier reassignment that was effective Wednesday.

“We are not going to go out there and do anything about it,” Holler said in a phone call on Wednesday afternoon. 

Holler said yes, he was okay with publicly defying the California Department of Public Health mandates, so restaurants would not waste perishable food. And though Holler said other members of the Emergency Operations Center leadership team were onboard with ignoring state orders, Mono County Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Boo said no, he was not giving the okay for a grace period and that the Mammoth restaurants must comply.

“The situation is urgent,” Dr. Boo said in a phone call on Wednesday afternoon. “There is no good choice here, there are no good options—the virus is crushing us.”

On Thursday morning at the Mammoth Lakes Tourism virtual Community Coffee, Holler then retracted the leniency he had allowed restaurants and is now telling restaurants to close indoor dining rooms immediately. Restaurants may serve outdoors and takeaway under the purple tier.

Read: What the Purple Tier means for Mono County

Gov. Newsom today in a briefing said that most counties have been compliant and lauded local leadership. However, he also asserted that the state controlled pandemic relief dollars and noncompliance could mean counties will lose critical funding. 

“If you are unwilling to enforce the rules, if you are unwilling to adopt the protocols to support the mitigation, the reduction of the spread of this disease—we are happy to redirect the dollars to counties that feel differently,” Gov. Newsom said. “We are encouraging, incentivizing more enlightened local leadership.” 

Cases of the coronavirus continue to surge nationwide, though we have not yet seen the effects of Thanksgiving, California Secretary of Human Health Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said. He recognized and thanked Californians who have stayed home to do their part, he expects to see a “surge upon a surge” in the coming weeks. 

Over the past seven-day period there have been at least 53 new cases of the coronavirus with two new hospitalizations and a 18.66% positivity rate in Mono County. Though these numbers are fluid as labs report data in batches, the county continues to see a significant increase with cases doubling almost every week.

To return to the less restrictive red tier, Mono County must have less than 7 cases per week and a positivity rate less than 8% for two consecutive weeks. 

“We don’t see us moving out the of the purple tier anytime soon, frankly, given what we are seeing from case activity,” Holler said.

Link: Mono County IT has redesigned the coronavirus dashboard, removing the Marine cases and highlighting 7-day data to make the numbers easier for everyone to read. 

Public Health Director Bryan Wheeler has been warning residents of the surge since early fall, urging residents to reassess their personal behavior. He has pointed to indoor social gatherings as the main driver of the spread, but now the virus is widespread and everywhere in the community.

“Activities that people thought a month ago were safe and lower risk, today are higher risk,” Dr. Ghaly said. “We need to recalibrate to keep this transmission down.”

This Week in Mono County

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