New California restrictions, EU travel ban, minimum wage hikes: 5 things to know Wednesday

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New California restrictions, EU travel ban, minimum wage hikes: 5 things to know Wednesday

Editors, USA TODAY
Published 3:22 a.m. ET July 1, 2020

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California governor says he will implement additional restrictions

With coronavirus cases surging, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday he plans to “tighten things up” when it comes to the state’s stay-at-home order ahead of a busy Fourth of July weekend. The governor did not detail what the plans would be, but he said he will issue new restrictions Wednesday. Newsom added people are more likely to get sick when they are indoors compared with outdoors and he will look at public health orders “in relationship to indoor vs. outdoor activities.” California has confirmed close to 223,000 infections, a nearly 50% increase over two weeks ago that’s been driven in part by the state’s increased testing. But more concerning is the growth in COVID-19 hospitalizations — a 43% increase in the past two weeks. Officials in Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous county, on Monday announced they will close beaches and ban firework displays for the holiday weekend.  

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As California sees a worrisome rise in the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Newsom on Thursday praised Disney after the company announced it would delay reopening its California theme parks. (June 25)

AP Domestic

EU bloc to open to international travelers, but Americans banned

Americans will not be allowed to travel to European Union countries when the bloc opens up to international visitors on Wednesday, the European Council announced Tuesday. Travelers from 14 countries will be welcomed to the EU, including Canada, South Korea and Australia. But those from the U.S. and many other nations will be barred as too risky because of spiking coronavirus cases. The U.S. has seen more than 2.6 million cases and over 127,400 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard Tuesday night. Adalbert Jahnz, a spokesman for the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, told USA TODAY that lists would likely be reviewed every two weeks. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration is working with the EU “to determine how it is we can best safely reopen international travel” since it’s important for the sake of both economies.

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Americans will not be allowed to travel to EU countries when the bloc opens up to international visitors July 1.

USA TODAY

Minimum wage hikes help hard-hit workers

While the financial assistance that helped millions of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic is soon going away, three states and several localities are partly offsetting the pain with minimum wage hikes that take effect Wednesday. Illinois, Nevada and Oregon are set to raise their pay floors along with 21 localities, including 13 in California. The increases, which had been scheduled before the pandemic, will help restaurant, retail and other low-paid workers hit hardest by state shutdowns of nonessential businesses. The timing is fortunate, as a $600 weekly federal supplement to state jobless benefits is scheduled to end July 31.

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Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extra federal benefit was allotted “for weeks of unemployment ending on or before July 31,” meaning the last full week of July, unless Congress extends it.

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New cellphone driving laws go into effect in three states

Idaho, Indiana and South Dakota will prohibit the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, beginning Wednesday. Those three states will join 22 others that already require phones be in hands-free mode, according to the Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts. In Indiana, the new statute says that a driver can be stopped by police, fined up to $500, and potentially lose their license for having a phone in their hand while driving – regardless of whether the phone is being used. Law enforcement in Idaho will issue warnings until Dec. 31 and work to educate drivers about the new law. Citations will be issued as of Jan. 1, 2021. South Dakota residents will be prohibited from using a cellphone except for emergency purposes, using a GPS app, or reading or entering a phone number. Distracted driving resulted in 2,841 fatalities in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission. 

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Older drivers are more likely to be distracted by in-vehicle technology than their younger counterparts, according to an AAA study.

USA TODAY

Delaware, the last state to abolish whippings, to remove public whipping post

Forty-eight years after formally ridding whipping from its laws as a criminal punishment, the state of Delaware will be removing a public whipping post on Wednesday. State officials said the post in Georgetown, Delaware, will be removed “in recognition of the violence and racial discrimination that its display signified to many Delawareans.” The post was initially used to bind people – disproportionately Black people – for public beatings for crimes ranging from petty theft to rape. It was put on display in 1993 and was referenced as an attraction in articles and advertisements about the town’s history. Some see it as a monument to brutality carried out under the law. It’s believed to be the last such post on display in the state besides those in museums and educational facilities.

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Historical Confederate monuments are being taken down and defaced from protests over the death of George Floyd.

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Contributing: Associated Press

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