Potential statewide COVID curfew gets strong reaction in Santa Clara County

On Monday, Governor Newsom floated the idea of a statewide curfew. It’s being done in Europe and other parts of the country. Struggling business owners see it as another setback while an infectious disease expert called the idea worth considering.

“More bad news makes people not want to go out,” said Ryan Summers, owner of Pizza Flora.

At Pizza Flora in San Jose, the mood was somber Monday night after health officials announced that Santa Clara County is moving back to the most restrictive purple tier, which means no more indoor dining.

“The little glimmer of hope we had with moving to the orange tier was hopeful but apparently not meant to last,” said Summers.

Combine that with talk of a curfew, the owner sees it as a recipe for a crumbling economy. He anticipates his business could easily drop 15 percent.

“It’s crippling,” said Summers. “At 9 p.m. the virus doesn't come out at 9 p.m. It doesn't have a time frame.”

“We know in the states that have statewide curfews of interest at least that's Massachusetts and an alcohol based curfew in the state of Virginia,” said Governor Newsom.

Governor Newsom is reviewing other states with curfews as well as studies from other countries.

“For many people curfews mean bad things, authoritarian governments use curfews,” said San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa.

Critics of a curfew call it an overreach that doesn't make sense. In New York and Europe, curfews mean bars close early. Bars here are already closed. Opponents also said curfew success is not backed by data or science.

“There’s not one infectious disease specialist in the United States that I’ve heard of that says a curfew works,” said Canepa.

“I think it's good the state has a Plan B if going back to largely purple tiers doesn't stop transmission,” said UCSF Professor of Epidemiology Dr. George Rutherford.

Rutherford admits it is too early to know how effective is a curfew with stopping the spread of Covid. However, he said it is an idea to consider.

He said it’s part of a public health playbook to stop Covid transmission when cases are rapidly spreading in the United States.

“We may approach the end of the year the number of U.S. battle dead in World War II in the span of 10 months and that's a pretty sobering thought,” said Dr. Rutherford.

The owner of Pizza Flora said he and neighboring businesses are preparing for a curfew trying to lean on each other to get through the year. Summers said the government hasn't helped small business owners as much as he'd like.