UPDATE (12/29): The regional stay-at-home order in Southern California has been extended, with no date given for its removal. The order went into effect in early December and was set to expire on December 28, pending the outlook of the four-week forecast of the region’s ICU capacity.
But on Tuesday, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced that the state’s four-week forecast shows ICU demand will likely continue to surpass capacity. Such projections will continue to be reassessed on a daily basis. SoCal’s ICU capacity is currently at zero percent; it’ll need to be equal to or greater than 15% to be released from the order.
“When I say it remains in Southern California, it is not to say that it is there again for at least another three weeks,” said Ghaly. “It could be shorter than that depending on how these four factors [ICU capacity, seven-day average case rate, transmission rate, rate of ICU admission] come together on a day-over-day basis. If the projection is below 15%, that region remains.”
That means all gatherings will remain prohibited, dine-in service closed and retail capacity limited in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Inyo and Mono Counties. The same order has also been extended for the San Joaquin Valley; it’s currently set to expire in the Sacramento region on January 1 and the Bay Area on January 8, though that could changed based on updated ICU projections.
Our original story appears below.
In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen a 10pm business curfew in Los Angeles County, then a similar one issued by the state, followed by an outdoor dining ban in L.A. and then a new Targeted Safer at Home Order. And now there’s yet another new public health order to keep track of—one that doesn’t change much in L.A., but does dramatically impact our neighbors.
On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new series of regionally-based stay-at-home orders. California has been broken up into five regions, and once ICU capacity within an area falls below 15%, all counties within it will be subject to the new restrictions, which ban gatherings with those outside of your own household and close or reduce capacities at a couple of industries. In addition, all non-essential travel is now restricted statewide. Once triggered, the new rules are set to remain in place for a minimum of three weeks.
UPDATE (12/5): On Friday night, the state reported the Southern California region’s available ICU capacity slipped below 15%, to 13.1%. The short version: The regional stay-at-home order should begin on Sunday. The longer version: The actual framework for this order takes effect on Saturday, December 5 at 12:59pm. After that’s officially in place, if a region falls below 15%, the terms of the order will take effect 24 hours later—which would mean Sunday.
Newsom, who referred to the order as “pulling that emergency brake,” projects that Southern California will hit that threshold within the next day or two. For the purposes of the order, Southern California includes Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Inyo and Mono Counties.
Here in L.A., few things will change as a result of the state’s order: Hair and nail salons and other personal care services will need to shut down. So too would campgrounds, and hotels would be reserved for essential travelers and workers only. Newsom also said that wineries will have to close, but it’s unclear yet if that will bar takeout at tasting rooms, which is currently allowed in L.A. Otherwise, all of the other closures and changes are already covered by L.A.’s local orders.
But for neighboring counties—and Pasadena, which runs its own health department and has kept outdoor dining open—the state’s announcement introduces some significant changes: Retail businesses (including non-essential ones) can remain open but will be limited to 20% capacity, while restaurants will be forced to close dine-in service and must revert to takeout only. Playgrounds will have to close, as will museums and movie theaters—though the latter two are already ordered to do so in the state’s purple tier. But unlike this spring’s stricter orders, this new state one will keep schools and outdoor spaces like beaches and trails open.
In fact, Newsom specifically focused on the importance of still allowing Californians to get outdoors. As a result, parks, beaches, hikes, bike rides, fishing, walks, outdoor fitness, running and skiing are unaffected (unless a stricter local order says otherwise).
By mid-December, it’s likely that all of California will have hit the threshold for this new regional stay-at-home order. It’ll remain in effect for at least three weeks; afterwards, regions will be reassessed weekly and can shed the order once ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15%. At that point, counties will then be reassigned a color-coded tier from the state’s existing reopening framework (purple, red, etc.).