California Governor Gavin Newsom promised to surrender his emergency powers to govern under a public health emergency by June 15. But yesterday during a vaccine lottery event, Newsom claimed it wasn’t the time to surrender any of his powers, claiming “uncertainty in the future” is reason enough for him to maintain his power to enforce mask mandates and business restrictions.
“The emergency remains in effect after June 15,” he said.
When asked why, he said, “Because we’re still in a state of emergency. This disease is still in effect. It is not taking the summer off.”
That may be true. But treating the pandemic as an “emergency” requiring the governor to possess extraordinary powers is more about power than it is public health.
Newsom’s flip-flopping on COVID restrictions and his unwillingness to forfeit his pandemic emergency authority comes as a recall movement to remove him as governor has gained widespread support from over a million petitioners. The effort was largely inspired by Newsom’s coronavirus policies, which have included some of the strictest lockdown measures in the U.S.
The recall effort has been languishing as the economy recovers and fewer restrictions are placed on people and businesses. But that may change as Newsom’s occupational health agency, CalOSHA, wants workplaces to maintain mask requirements until all workers are vaccinated.
“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,” Newsom said.
In other words, the people of California should sit down, shut up, and mind their betters.