gavin newsom
© Reuters / Kyle Grillot; Reuters / Mike Blake
California Governor Gavin Newsom has kicked off a storm of criticism with a new statewide shutdown order, mandating that bars and restaurants, among other businesses, halt indoor operations amid a surge in coronavirus infections.

Announced at a press conference on Monday, the new order requires that bars across California shut down altogether, while restaurants, movie theaters, zoos, museums and a number of other establishments must suspend all business activities indoors. In a number of counties on the state's "monitoring list," gyms, places of worship, salons, malls and other facilities deemed non-critical have also been forced to close down under the new rule.

"We've made this point on multiple occasions and that is, we're moving back into a modification mode of our original stay-at-home order," Newsom told reporters on Monday in explaining the mandate, adding that Covid-19 "continues to be a deadly disease."

The new order - an extension of California's stay-at-home edict brought in March, the first state to impose such a sweeping mandate - has triggered an avalanche of controversy, drawing countless netizens to condemn the shutdown as tyrannical and inept, many demanding that Newsom be removed from office over the decision.

With some 7.5 million unemployment claims in California since March - making up only a fraction of the more than 50 million Americans thrown out of work nationwide amid the pandemic - a number of critics focused on the economic impact the new lockdown will bring, some suggesting business owners should simply ignore the order and continue normal operations. Others pointed out the disconnect between Newsom's more accommodating stance toward mass protests kicked off by the police killing of George Floyd and regular day-to-day activities, like attending church or eating out, one sarcastically observing "Remember, Covid never attacks protesters and rioters..."

Despite the outpouring of criticism, a handful of netizens were in Newsom's corner, some even repurposing the "#RecallGavin2020" hashtag to voice support for the embattled governor.

Long one of the harder-hit states, California has risen to the number-two spot in terms of total confirmed coronavirus infections, tallying more than 332,000 infections, making it second only to New York. Though the state was moving through a phased reopening, a new surge in cases has thrown that process into limbo, seeing a number of cities and counties reimpose lockdown measures even before Newsom's more comprehensive order on Monday. To date, the US has counted in excess of 3.5 million cases of the illness and more than 135,000 fatalities, nearly 7,100 of them in California.