A new stay-at-home order in Southern California will temporarily close many non-essential businesses, including bars, recreational facilities, personal services and hair salons, effective Sunday night.
On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a regional stay-at-home order based on intensive care unit capacity in an attempt to pull an “emergency brake” on the COVID-19 positivity rate amid the holiday season. Newsom urged Californians to stop gathering with those not within their households, keep their activities outside and continue wearing their masks.
The new mandate states that regions with an ICU capacity below 15% will have to close down for three weeks.
Southern California has a 12.5% ICU bed availability as of Dec. 5, according to the California COVID-19 website. The Orange County Health Care Agency also reported that as of Dec. 5, there are 842 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, with 193 of them in the ICU.
The state has been divided into 5 regions: Northern California, Greater Sacramento, the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.
“All within just the next few weeks, our ICU capacity in the state of California will drop in these five regions,” Newsom said during a press conference.
Certain sectors that are allowed to remain open include schools that have received a waiver from the state, retail businesses that minimize capacity to 20% and restaurants that provide takeout and delivery only. Non-essential travel has also been temporarily restricted statewide.
Don Barnes, Orange County sheriff, urged the public to follow public health guidelines but said law enforcement would not be enforcing the stay-at-home order. Compliance with health orders is a matter of personal responsibility and not law enforcement, he said.
“To put the onus on law enforcement to enforce these orders against law-abiding citizens who are already struggling through difficult circumstances, while at the same time criticizing law enforcement and taking away tools to do our jobs, is both contradictory and disingenuous,” Barnes said in a statement on Saturday.
He said that deputies would not respond to calls to enforce compliance with social gatherings or stay-at-home orders.
Orange County returned to the purple tier on Nov. 17, which is the most restrictive of the four reopening tiers. On Nov. 21, a one-month curfew began across all counties in the purple tier, including all of Southern California. The curfew ordered residents to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. with the exception of essential activities, sparking a protest in Huntington Beach.
Although they are unable to congregate, Newsom encouraged Californians to stay active. He said that the exercise should not take place indoors where there is a lot of mingling, but instead it should be focused on outdoor activities such as walking, hiking or biking.
“None of us are naive, I certainly am not of the mental stress that all of us are under, not just the financial distress that many are under and more still with this stay-at-home order, but we want to encourage activity,” Newsom said.