Is the coronavirus nocturnal? Does it come out to bite when the sun sets?
California seems to think so.
Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, California Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday that he is considering implementing a statewide curfew.
Cases have doubled in the Golden State over the last 10 days, forcing the governor’s office to pull “an emergency brake.” 41 of the state’s 58 counties are now classified as “purple,” the tier of COVID-19 spread requiring the strictest lockdown guidelines.
Under the purple tier, restaurants, movie theaters and houses of worship are limited to outdoor service only and bars are fully closed. Retail stores can open at 25% capacity with modified operations, Fox Business reports.
“We also are considering – full disclosure and a little bit of a preview – the notion of a curfew,” Newsom said in a press conference. “Before you jump in terms of your mindset of whether that’s a good idea or a bad idea, we are assessing that as well.”
He added that his team is looking into studies from France, Germany and Saudi Arabia on the “efficacy of their strategies as it relates to curfews,” and referenced “statewide curfews of interest” in Massachusetts and Virginia as examples. Massachusetts implemented a 10 p.m. curfew, while in Virginia, businesses shut down at midnight.
While the intention is to reduce risky behavior that often occurs during later hours, what does a curfew really accomplish?
“Viruses are not vampires,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist with Georgetown’s Center for Global Health Science and Security said in an email, according to Slate.
“If gyms or bars are operating (especially at capacity) prior to 10 p.m., there is still a substantial exposure risk,” she added.
Curfews may even encourage other high-risk behaviors.
“Curfews often condense people visiting businesses into a more narrow period of time, which often means more crowding and potential exposures,” Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist at George Mason university said.
Curfews “could just shift the risky behavior into harder to regulate environments, such as from bars to house parties,” Nuzzo added.
While discussing the potential curfew, Newsom also said he was aware of concerns from local business owners, and that providing financial support for small business was his “number one priority” when considering the state’s 2021 budget.
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