Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that he will extend his emergency powers and the state of emergency, as well as some masking mandates past the June 15th reopening date, keeping intact the emergency powers and “one man” decisions first granted to him last year.
In a speech made before his “Vax for the Win” lottery drawing in Sacramento, specifically said that the state of emergency would remain in effect until after June 15th, with Newsom keeping his emergency powers because COVID-19 is still around in California and that he may need those emergency powers sometime in the future, such as if another spike in cases occurs.
“The one thing I am certain of is: There’s uncertainty in the future,” said Newsom on Friday. “The emergency remains in effect after June 15 because we’re still in a state of emergency. This disease is still in effect. It is not taking the summer off.”
The Governor also explained that the mask mandate may not be ending in full, breaking the promise he made last month of all mask mandates ending on June 15th. Instead, he will be following new Cal/OSHA recommendations requiring masks in many workplaces until at least the end of July. He did note that the Cal/OSHA board currently has a subcommittee to study the extended mask requirements and hinted that he would likely follow what they recommend.
“The dust is settling. They’ve got a subcommittee that’s meeting to follow up on some of the work. They’re moving in the right direction,” added Newsom on Friday. “We’re working through this. This is the sausage-making process. We’ve already had a number of conversations earlier this morning about people’s feelings about what happened last night. I think it’s helpful that the governor is not dictating and mandating those decisions in advance. We are in an iterative process of engagement. We hope to let folks know more about our next steps very shortly. Face coverings remain an important part of our arsenal to fight this disease.”
Critics immediately decried the Governor’s speech, noting his refusal to give up his emergency powers and breaking his earlier promises to an end to the mask mandate in 11 days are doing much more harm than good, with Republicans noting that it may take legislation to remove the Governor’s “one-man rule” powers.
“If Newsom believes the state is safe enough to reopen, then it’s safe for people to be able to make decisions for themselves without his arbitrary and capricious rules,” said Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) on Friday. “I believe it is time for him to hang up his crown and restore our democracy. In California we don’t grow bananas, so there’s no need for a banana republic.”
“Since the governor refuses to relinquish his crown, the Legislature should pass [legislation such as the emergency powers termination bill SCR 5] and do it for him.”