Not many Californians will be trekking over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house for the holidays this year if Gov. Gavin Newsom has his way.
According to guidelines issued by his office, Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations in the Golden State can include members of no more than three households, including everyone present — hosts as well as guests.
Granny will obviously have to be a little more careful about which set of aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews she invites this year.
And for those who do wrangle an invitation, forget about singing any Christmas carols — or music of any kind, for that matter. Newsom’s edict directs that:
- instrumental music will be allowed, but only if the musicians maintain at least a six-foot physical distance between themselves (and all musicians must be from one of the three households; playing of wind instruments is strongly discouraged);
- everyone singing or chanting should wear a face covering at all times;
- all those singing, shouting, chanting or dancing should maintain physical distancing beyond six feet; and,
- they are strongly encouraged to do so quietly (at or below the volume of a normal speaking voice).
So much for Uncle Ned and his raucous harmonica rendition of “Good King Wenceslas.”
Believe it or not, Newsom would also appreciate your making Thanksgiving dinner a picnic affair this year.
“All gatherings must be held outdoors,” the governor’s pronouncement demands, helpfully conceding that, “Attendees may go inside to use restrooms as long as the restrooms are frequently sanitized.”
Gatherings may occur in outdoor spaces covered by umbrellas, canopies, awnings, roofs, and other shade structures, provided that at least three sides of the space (or 75 percent) are open to the outdoors.
This will no doubt come as a relief to groups planning to open presents on Christmas morning seated on a beach towel in San Diego but won’t be of much comfort to families shivering like the Donner party high in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Strangely, Newsom’s vision hasn’t made it onto a Currier & Ives print just yet.
The governor’s cheery directive also strongly encourages seniors and those presumed to be at risk for contracting the virus to skip the festivities altogether.
It’s perfectly fine, however, if Grandpa shows up via Zoom. Just be sure to carefully wipe down the computer screen afterward.
The lunacy goes on, but you get the idea.
“We are entering into the holidays, but also we’re entering into the part of the year when things cool down and people are more likely to congregate … in settings that put their physical proximity and likelihood of transmitting disease at higher risk,” Newsom said. “Don’t be misled that this disease is any less deadly. Quite the contrary — it is as deadly as it’s ever been in the context of those that are high risk.”
Misled, he apparently means, by data from the Centers for Disease Control, which calculates the survival rate for even those COVID sufferers in high-risk categories (70-plus, overweight, diabetic, a history of respiratory disease, etc.) is 95 percent and climbing, while the virus kills less than 1 percent of those who contract it in every other age group.
In fact, scientists now believe COVID is doing what most viruses do — mutating to a more infectious but far less virulent form.
This means that, for the vast majority of us, the biggest threat to getting cornered under the mistletoe by amorous Cousin Myrtle is coming down a few days later with something you’re liable to write off as nothing more deadly than a case of the sniffles.
Newsom, of course, has access to all the latest scientific data and no doubt understands perfectly well how unnecessary his preening is — and how likely it is that he or anyone with an IQ above room temperature will happily comply with his nonsensical dicta.
Then again, who knows?
This is, after all, California — the state that elected him in the first place. Given everything else you’re likely to see here, why would a Thanksgiving weenie bake or a socially distanced Christmas party with entertainment provided by a chorus of mask-muzzled carolers seem odd?
Aaron Withe is the national director for the Freedom Foundation, a national public policy organization promoting free markets and limited, accountable government.