California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a third stay-at-home order in the last nine months that is set to be phased in on a regional basis as soon as Dec. 4.
For this order, the state has been divided into five regions---Northern California, Southern California, Greater Sacramento, the Bay Area and the San Juaquin Valley.
The three-week stay-at-home order would take effect when a region reaches less than 15% capacity for intensive care unit beds.
Newsom said that is likely to happen within a day, or a week at the most, in all but the Bay Area, which could reach that threshold within three weeks.
“The bottom line is, if we don’t act now our hospital system will be overrun and we will have even more deaths,” Newsom said during a Dec. 3 news conference announcing the new order.
As the order is implemented, nonessential businesses will be forced to close, including bars, wineries and personal services, such as hair and nail salons and barber shops.
Retail stores will be allowed to remain open at 20% capacity, and restaurants will continue to be limited to take-out or delivery service only.
Newsom two weeks earlier issued an overnight curfew for 52 of California’s 58 counties that are in the state’s most restrictive of four tiers, covering about 99% of the population.
California over the past week has averaged 15,000 new cases per day, triple that of the past month, and an average of 67 people have died each day during the past week, a 60% jump from mid-November.
Hospitalizations have also tripled over the past month, with 75% of intensive care unit beds occupied by coronavirus patients. The 14-day positivity rate...
...which was around 3% in early November, is now at 7%.
Since the pandemic began in mid-March, California has reported 1,265,918 confirmed cases, including 18,726 on Dec. 2, and 19,451 fatalities, including 116 on Dec. 2.
Also on Dec. 3, the Supreme Court sided with a California church that had challenged Newsom’s restriction on indoor worship services.
Justices ordered a federal appeals court, which upheld Newsom’s order, to revisit the issue. The decision comes after the court voted 5-4 on a similar case in New York, saying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order limiting church and synagogue attendance was unconstitutional.
Ahead of Newsom’s announcement, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Dec. 2 issued a “Targeted Safer at Home Order."
“My message couldn’t be simpler,” Garcetti said at a news conference. “It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything. And if it isn’t essential, don’t do it.”
Critics were quick to point out the long list of exemptions, including the homeless, journalism activities for newspapers, radio, television, magazines and podcasts, as well as music, film and television production.
Several conservatives on Twitter noted that podcasts can be done from home and questioned why they were deemed essential.
Other exceptions include buying food and obtaining medical care, and businesses that are able to operate outdoors, such as fitness centers, can continue to do so. Beaches, parks and golf courses remain open.
Violating the order is a misdemeanor, subject to fines and jail time.