California announced on Monday that conditions have been trending in a positive enough direction to lift its regional stay-at-home order in Southern California, the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area, effective immediately—meaning the entire state is now clear of the order.
All counties will now return to the state’s color-coded reopening tiers. For most of California, that means reverting to the most-restrictive purple tier, which would see the return of outdoor (but not indoor) dining, hair and nail salons, leisure travel and campgrounds, increased retail capacity and the end of the 10pm curfew.
However, counties may still impose their own stricter measures, and as of the time of publication it’s not clear yet how L.A. will proceed. Prior to the state’s order, L.A. County set up a pair of thresholds that triggered an outdoor dining ban as well as a “targeted” safer at home order. A late-December update to the county order says it “will remain in effect for as long as [the state’s order] remains in effect.” But the dining ban predates that order—and in addition, an appeals court ruling allows the county to keep that ban in place until at least early February, regardless of the state’s order. And then there’s Pasadena, which runs its own health department, which was initially keeping outdoor dining open even when the rest of the county wasn’t.
UPDATE: L.A. County will allow restaurants to reopen on Friday, and other sectors like hair and nail salons can reopen immediately. Pasadena will allow outdoor dining to resume today.
Following a mid-November order that imposed a 10pm curfew on non-essential activities for most of the state, Governor Gavin Newsom outlined the framework of the regional stay-at-home order on December 3: The state was broken up into five regions, and each one would be subject to the order for a minimum of three weeks once its ICU capacity dipped below 15%. Only a few days later, Southern California hit that threshold and it’s remained under the order ever since.
The process for coming out of the order has posed a bit of recent controversy. The state said it would reevaluate regions based on a four-week projection of ICU capacity; if a region could was forecasted to climb above 15% during that period, then it would be released from the order. But the data for such forecasting was never shared, which led to scenarios like Sacramento leaving its order while available ICU capacity was still in the single digits.
Monday morning’s announcement from the state simply says that all three regions are expected to see ICU capacity rise above 15% in the next four weeks, but initially offered no other specifics. “Californians heard the urgent message to stay home as much as possible and accepted that challenge to slow the surge and save lives,” said state public health officer Dr. Tomás Aragón in a statement.
In the afternoon, Newsom elaborated on the lifting of the orders and shared some numbers: Based on current capacity, transmission rates, case rates and the proportion of cases admitted to the ICU, the state projects that Southern California’s available ICU capacity will be 33.3% on February 21. However, the state’s latest numbers still list SoCal’s current ICU capacity at zero percent.
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