Businesses on Edge as California Considers Stricter Stay-at-Home Order

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A boarded up Macy's store
A boarded up Macy's store on June 11, 2020 near San Francisco's normally bustling Union Square. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Word that Gov. Gavin Newsom is considering implementing a stricter stay-at-home-order amid skyrocketing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has business leaders very nervous at the height of the holiday shopping season.

Notes obtained by KQED of a Dec. 1 phone call between representatives of the Newsom administration and state business leaders reflect uncertainty about how specific industries will be affected and how hard the state is going to crack down.

"We obviously had to learn that there will have to be an amplified stay at home order for California businesses. And that's grim news, especially as we head into the holiday season," said John Kabateck, the California director of the National Federation of Independent Business, who was on the call.


Kabateck acknowledges that rising COVID-19 rates must be addressed. But he said that has to happen in a way that lets businesses stay open safely.

"We can't let the brick and mortar shut down," he said. "Our economy will crumble. People will be out of jobs and we will see more devastation before 2021 even arrives."

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According to notes from the call, the Newsom administration said it had to act fast, explaining that the longer it waited to implement a shutdown, the longer the shutdown would last.

Jesse Melgar, Newsom's communications director, said multiple options are being explored to help curb the rapid spread of the virus.

"While no final decision has been made, the administration is engaging with stakeholders and leaders to land on the best possible action moving forward that will save lives," Melgar said.

Data from the state's COVID-19 website shows nearly 21,000 positive cases recorded on Dec. 1 alone, and 113 additional deaths. Of California's 58 counties, 52 are now operating under the state's most restrictive coronavirus rules, comprising more than 99% of the population.