In CA: Anti-curfew event draws maskless protestors, and L.A. suspends outdoor dining

Winston Gieseke, USA TODAY

I'm Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, bringing you the latest headlines at the kickoff of this holiday week.

In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.

California curfew protest in Huntington Beach draws plenty of maskless protestors

Demonstrators wave flags along Pacific Coast Highway Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 during a protest against a stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Huntington Beach, Calif. California health officials are restricting overnight activities starting Saturday night, though there are plenty of exceptions. They're calling it a limited stay-at-home order designed to stem the rapidly spreading coronavirus by discouraging social gatherings.
Demonstrators wave flags along Pacific Coast Highway Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 during a protest against a stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Huntington Beach, Calif. California health officials are restricting overnight activities starting Saturday night, though there are plenty of exceptions. They're calling it a limited stay-at-home order designed to stem the rapidly spreading coronavirus by discouraging social gatherings.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Huntington Beach Saturday to defy California’s new 10 p.m. curfew.

According to Huntington Beach police Lt. Ryan Reilly, around 400 protesters — “some, not all” of which wore masks — assembled in the beach town about 35 miles from Los Angeles; most were law-abiding, and the crowd dwindled by half after 90 minutes. As reported last week, Reilly said police did not intend to issue citations for curfew violations: “We are seeking compliance and trying to educate people.’’

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the curfew on Thursday; it applies to 41 of California's 58 counties and is set to last until Dec. 21. “The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic, and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge,’’ Newsom said in a statement. “We are sounding the alarm.”

California is the second state, after Texas, to record more than 1 million coronavirus cases; it set a record Friday with nearly 15,500 new infections.

L.A. County: No outdoor restaurant dining for at least 3 weeks

Tony Zablah, owner of Z Falafel, stands outside the boarded-up front window of his restaurant, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in downtown Los Angeles.
Tony Zablah, owner of Z Falafel, stands outside the boarded-up front window of his restaurant, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County public health officials announced Sunday that outdoor dining at restaurants would be suspended after a surge of new coronavirus cases, the Los Angele Times reports.

The new guidelines, which take effect at 10 p.m. Wednesday and limits restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars to takeout and delivery only for the first time since May, will be in effect for at least three weeks, officials said. Wineries and breweries will be able to continue retail operations.

To no one's surprise, restaurateurs greeted the news with frustration, especially since some had spent considerable sums of money to make their businesses compliant with the county's previous guidelines by investing in patio furniture, extra cleaning supplies, heaters and awnings in order to seat — and distance — customers outside.

Christy Vega Fowler, who owns Casa Vega in Sherman Oaks, said she spent $30,000 to set up two tents behind her family’s restaurant. The rentals of these tents have increased her monthly expenses by $10,000 per month. “They told us we could operate with outdoor dining. We did it safely, we made the investment and then they take it away from us,” she said. “It’s devastating.”

Officials said last week that the rule would be imposed if the five-day average of new cases hit 4,000 or if hospitalizations topped 1,750 per day. By Sunday, the five-day average had reached 4,097, according to the Department of Public Health, while hospitalizations stood at 1,473 on Saturday, a 92% increase from the month before.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said she understands the hardships that that businesses and their employees are facing, but insists that taking a step backward to get a handle on the rising rate of infection was necessary.

“The more we opened up, the higher the case rate became,” said Kuehl, whose district includes the Westside, Malibu, and much of the San Fernando Valley. “Clearly, as the case rates went up, it was an indicator that everyone was not being compliant.”

Tesla will stay open under California's new coronavirus curfew rule

Vehicles are seen parked at the Tesla plant Monday, May 11, 2020, in Fremont, Calif. The parking lot was nearly full at Tesla's California electric car factory Monday, an indication that the company could be resuming production in defiance of an order from county health authorities.
Vehicles are seen parked at the Tesla plant Monday, May 11, 2020, in Fremont, Calif. The parking lot was nearly full at Tesla's California electric car factory Monday, an indication that the company could be resuming production in defiance of an order from county health authorities.

One business that won't be closed under the new guidelines is Tesla, writes cnet.com, as the state's recent curfew considers manufacturing to be essential.

The carmaker, along with other California-based manufacturing companies, have secured an exemption from the new California lockdown guidelines as the state attempts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

During the pandemic's first lockdown in March, Tesla fought hard to remain open before shutting down. But this new exemption will keep the Fremont car plant up and running while other businesses deemed nonessential will close at 10 p.m. each night and must remain closed until 5 a.m. the next day.

And speaking of automakers ...

GM flips to California's side in pollution fight with Trump administration

General Motors Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra speaks during the opening of their contract talks with the United Auto Workers in Detroit on July 16, 2019.
General Motors Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra speaks during the opening of their contract talks with the United Auto Workers in Detroit on July 16, 2019.

In a letter sent Monday to environmental groups, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the carmaker no longer supports the Trump administration in legal efforts to end California's right to set its own clean-air standards.

Instead, she said the company agrees with President-elect Joe Biden's plan to expand electric vehicle use, adding that GM will pull out of Trump's lawsuit. She urged other auto manufacturers to do the same.

“We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the President-elect, California and General Motors are aligned to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions,” Barra said in the letter.

Last year, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and 10 smaller automakers sided with the Trump administration in a lawsuit over whether California has the right to set its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy. Other manufacturers — BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, Volvo and Honda — disagreed, saying they backed California and endorsed stricter emissions and fuel economy standards than proposed by the Trump administration.

Toyota, one of the big automakers in the coalition favoring the Trump standards, said Monday it was reconsidering its position. In a statement, the company said it has supported year-over-year increases in fuel economy standards and that it joined the coalition because most other automakers agreed there should be a single U.S. standard.

“Given the changing circumstances, we are assessing the situation, but remain committed to our goal of a consistent, unitary set of fuel economy standards applicable in all 50 states," the company said.

The White House had no immediate comment Monday.

Newsom and family in quarantine after COVID-19 exposure

In this Jan. 6, 2019, file photo Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, center, watch their children, daughter Montana, second from left, and sons, Dutch, foreground, and Hunter, foreground fourth from left, operate robot games at the California Railroad Museum, Sacramento, Calif. Newsom said this weekend that his family is under quarantine after a recent exposure to COVID-19. The governor's family tested negative for the virus on Nov. 22, 2020.
In this Jan. 6, 2019, file photo Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, center, watch their children, daughter Montana, second from left, and sons, Dutch, foreground, and Hunter, foreground fourth from left, operate robot games at the California Railroad Museum, Sacramento, Calif. Newsom said this weekend that his family is under quarantine after a recent exposure to COVID-19. The governor's family tested negative for the virus on Nov. 22, 2020.

California's governor, Gavin Newsom, along with his wife and four children, ages 4 to 11, are quarantining after three of the kids were exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, Newsom's office said late Sunday.

Newsom was notified Friday evening that a California Highway Patrol member who had contact with three of his children later tested positive for the virus. The CHP provides security for Newsom and his family. After getting tested Sunday, all six members of the Newsom clan tested negative for the virus.

Earlier this month Newsom faced criticism for attending a dinner party with a dozen people on Nov. 6 after warning residents to limit gatherings.

The family is quarantining at their home in Sacramento County and will be tested regularly.

California family receives cardboard cutout instead of grandparents

Missy and Barry Buchanan's grandchildren pose with the cardboard cutout their grandparents sent in lieu of traveling for Thanksgiving.
Missy and Barry Buchanan's grandchildren pose with the cardboard cutout their grandparents sent in lieu of traveling for Thanksgiving.

Like many Americans, Missy and Barry Buchanan decided against traveling this Thanksgiving. Instead of making the journey to California to see their daughter, the Rockwall, Texas-based couple sent a cardboard cutout of themselves to give their grandkids a laugh.

“I warned my adult kids that a package was coming, and that it would be kind of large,” Missy said.

“We all opened it up at the end of the day thinking it was going to be socks or pajamas or something like that,” Missy's daughter Mindy Whittington said. “We opened it up, and it was hilarious.”

“I was just trying to think of something fun, I have really creative and fun kids and grandkids,” Missy said. “I wanted to make it memorable.”

Even though they can't be together this Thanksgiving, the Buchanans remain thankful. “I want to show our younger generations that we can be apart, but we can still be a part of each other’s lives in our celebrations,” Missy said.

That's all, folks. Have a great week!

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: cnet.com, Los Angeles Times

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Anti-curfew event draws maskless protestors, and L.A. suspends outdoor dining