On November 25, the state of California issued guidelines vis-à-vis the coronavirus. “Don’t plan celebrations with multiple households,” the guidelines warned. “It is safest to celebrate the holidays with the people who already live with you, but if you invite others, only invite a maximum of two other households to your gathering.”
On Monday, California state assembly members switched the location of their swearing-in session from the state Capitol to the Golden 1 Center to assure proper social distancing, even excluding families and guests.
Hours later, five state assembly members dined together outside at a Sacramento restaurant, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.
Four Democrats and one Independent and his fiancée took part. “Assembly members Adrin Nazarian, D-West Toluca Lake, Chad Mayes, I-Yucca Valley, Tasha Boerner Horvath, D-Encinitas, Marc Levine, D-Marin County, and Chris Ward, D-San Diego, along with Mayes’ fiancée, attended a dinner Monday evening at Maydoon, a newer restaurant in Sacramento’s Midtown neighborhood,” the Bee reported.
The Bee added, “Mayes said he and his fiancée originally went to Maydoon ‘looking for a place to kill time’ before their evening return flight, and that the others later joined the two for dinner. He said he ‘thought we were following all the rules because we were sitting outside.’”
California’s rules for restaurants state, “Limit the number of patrons at a single table to a household unit or patrons who have asked to be seated together. People in the same party seated at the same table do not have to be six feet apart,” but also state, “All members of the party must be present before seating and hosts must bring the entire party to the table at one time.”
After a Sacramento Bee reporter pointed out that the group represented a multi-household group, Nazarian replied, “Can we not have dinner?” Levine defended the dinner by saying they were “supporting a local business.”
Boerner Horvath covered her face with her scarf and exited. Her chief of staff Rob Charles said the dinner was within the parameters of Sacramento County’s COVID-19 requirements, adding, “They were dining outside, they were following the protocols, everyone tested negative for COVID-19.”
Last Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new, regional stay-at-home order that would shut down both indoor and outdoor dining in any region where the ICU hospital capacity falls below 15% capacity. The five regions in California are Northern California, Greater Sacramento, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.
When Newsom announced the order, none of the regions had met that threshold; Northern California’s ICU capacity stood at 18.6%: the Bay Area stood at 25.4%: Greater Sacramento stood at 22%: the San Joaquin Valley stood at 19.7%, and Southern California stood at 20.6%, as ABC 7 reported.
The Bee noted that at the Organizational Session held on Monday Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, stated, “We must continue to exercise maximum caution in order to bring this state through this pandemic.” When asked about the group having dinner together, he stated, “I would hope that every Assembly members makes safe choices for themselves, their families, and their constituents. I would also hope they are mindful of the sacrifices Californians are making during this COVID pandemic.”