How Politics Colors How Californians Are Reacting to Restrictions Being Lifted

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U.S.|Here’s how Californians’ reactions to reopening are colored by politics.

Restaurants and other businesses in California that suffered under pandemic restrictions were allowed to return to full capacity on Tuesday. Ralph Kottke read a newspaper over breakfast in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Credit...Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

Many Californians responded to the state’s reopening on Tuesday along political lines.

In liberal bulwarks like San Francisco, officials said they would continue to exercise their option to impose tougher pandemic rules than the state’s, requiring proof of vaccination for employees in high-risk workplaces like hospitals and skilled-nursing centers.

In Los Angeles, Roselma Samala, the co-owner of Genever, an Art Deco-inspired gin bar in the city’s Historic Filipinotown, said that despite the statewide reopening, she and her partners did not plan to resume indoor service until July 15.

“Just bringing in a dollar isn’t worth it to us, if our staff’s health or our community’s health is going to be impacted,” Ms. Samala said.

In the more rural and conservative Central Valley, Jerry Dyer, the Republican mayor of Fresno, said his constituents largely felt that the health rules could and should have been lifted sooner, and that it was difficult to celebrate reopening without also thinking of the livelihoods that were crushed in the effort to save lives.

“People who have been laid off, who have had to stand in food lines for the first time, who were unemployed for the first time,” Mr. Dyer said, “for those people, it’s bittersweet.”

And in the red-tinged suburbs outside the state capital in Sacramento, small-business owners blamed Gov. Gavin Newsom for the battering they took under state pandemic restrictions. Michael Helmrich, a restaurateur, said he “might forgive but sure won’t forget” the hundreds of thousands of dollars his business lost.

“We really want to put this behind us and get back to normal,” he said, “whatever ‘normal’ is now.”

Mr. Newsom’s handling of the pandemic and the restrictions the state imposed during the pandemic have helped to fuel a Republican-led recall campaign against him.

Tariro Mzezewa contributed reporting from San Francisco.

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