Thursday morning news – July 2, 2020

California closes most bars, restaurant dining rooms » California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he has ordered bars and restaurant dining rooms to close for the next three weeks throughout most of the state. 

NEWSOM: This doesn’t mean restaurants shut down. It means that we’re trying to take activities, as many activities as we can—these mixed activities, these concentrated activities—and move them outdoors. 

The order also applies to the indoor movie theaters, wineries, entertainment centers, zoos, and museums. It applies to 19 counties covering nearly three quarters of the state’s population. 

And Newsom ordered parking lots closed at many beaches to limit overcrowding.

The Democratic governor’s order comes amid a troubling increase of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the U.S. Sun Belt. 

Georgia once again shattered its record for new daily reported infections, adding 3,000 cases in one day. 

But the virus is also spreading at a faster pace north of the Sun Belt.

In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown said she’s prepared to enforce a new rule requiring all Oregonians to wear masks in indoor public spaces. 

BROWN: Do we wear face coverings, keep a physical distance and avoid large gatherings? Do we protect ourselves, our families, our grandparents? Or do we pretend that this virus isn’t hiding and lurking among us? 

Kansas residents must follow a similar rule starting Friday.

U.S. government buys up remdesivir supplies » The U.S. government announced this week that it has an agreement to buy up the bulk of remdesivir supplies for the next three months. That is the only drug licensed so far to treat COVID-19. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Department of Health and Human Services said it had secured a half-million treatments through September. That amounts to roughly 90 percent of the drug’s production in August and September.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said “to the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it.”

But some public health experts are criticizing the move, saying it signals an unwillingness to cooperate with other countries.

In a statement Wednesday, Gilead said its agreement with the United States allows for unneeded supplies to be sent to other countries. The company said it is “working as quickly as possible” to enable access worldwide. But it noted that the United States is seeing a significant rise in COVID-19 cases, while—quote—“most EU and other developed countries have reduced their levels of disease.”

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Seattle police clear occupied protest zone » Seattle police cleared out the city’s “occupied” protest zone on Wednesday.  

Officers moved in on the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood around 5 a.m., dismantling tents and roadblocks. 

Protesters who called for defunding the police department had camped in the area for weeks, calling it the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest—or “CHOP.”

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best told reporters…

BEST: Our job is to support peaceful demonstrations. But what has happened here on these streets over the last two weeks—few weeks, that is—is lawless and is brutal, and bottom line, it is simply unacceptable. 

She noted that since the protest occupation began on June 8th, the CHOP area has been the site of four shootings—two of them fatal—“robberies, assaults,” and “countless property crimes.”

Police arrested more than 30 people Wednesday for failure to disperse and other offenses. 

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered the area cleared following the shootings. 

Judge blocks U.S. “3rd Country Asylum Policy” » A federal judge appointed by President Trump has knocked down a cornerstone of the Trump administration’s asylum policy. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has that story. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly’s decision halts the so-called “3rd Country” rule.

Kelly said that authorities violated federal rule-making procedures by not seeking public feedback before putting the policy into effect last July. 

The rule denies asylum to people who travel through other countries to reach the U.S.-Mexico border without first seeking protection in those countries.

The impact of Kelly’s ruling is diminished by a coronavirus pandemic-related measure. It allows the government to quickly expel people who cross the border illegally and block asylum-seekers at official crossings. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.

British prime minister slams China’s “serious breach” of Hong Kong rights, agreement » In Hong Kong, police arrested hundreds on Wednesday. That as many demonstrators defied a police ban for an annual protest to mark the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China. 

Protesters decried the new so-called “national security” law that bans anything Beijing defines as secessionist, terrorist, or subversive activities.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said the law “constitutes a clear and serious breach” … of the agreement under which the U.K. handed over Hong Kong in 1997. The Chinese government promised Hong Kong would have 50 years of autonomy. 

JOHNSON: It violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and is in direct conflict with Hong Kong basic law. The law also threatens the freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration. 

Johnson said his government will “reintroduce a new route for those with British national overseas status to enter the U.K.” He said they will have “the ability to live and work in the U.K. and thereafter to apply for citizenship.”

Russian voters allow Putin seek 2 more terms » Russian voters this week approved changes to the country’s constitution that could allow President Vladimir Putin to hold power until 2036.

According to election officials, with three-fourths of the precincts counted, 77 percent of voters backed the constitutional amendments. 

But the election was tarnished by widespread reports of pressure on voters and other irregularities.

The amendments would allow Putin to run for two more six-year terms.

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Police officers smile as they walks down a street occupied hours earlier by an encampment of protesters Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in Seattle, where streets had been blocked off in an area demonstrators had occupied for weeks. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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