SACRAMENTO – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Friday called on residents to stay home as the virus continues to recover rapidly, preventing public gatherings in private homes when people come from different households.
The restrictions announced on Friday were not unexpected. Los Angeles County officials are gradually tightening health restrictions, though not to the level of shutdown introduced early in the pandemic.
The county set a threshold of an average of 4,500 cases per day over five days. This threshold was exceeded earlier than expected: the five-day average of new cases reported on Friday was 4,751.
The directive allows for church services and protests, noting that both are constitutionally protected rights. It sets maximum occupancy rates for various businesses, including essential retail, libraries and leisure activities, and leaves a nationwide ban on personal meals in restaurants and bars, as patrons cannot wear masks when eating or drinking.
However, pick-up and delivery services from dining establishments will continue to be permitted.
The directive is less stringent than Governor Gavin Newsom’s March, nationwide decree that closed schools and most businesses and restricted public movement to basic workers or basic activities such as purchasing food and medicine.
“We know we ask a lot from so many who have been sacrificing for months,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of public health. “Acting with collective urgency is essential if we are to stop this wave.”
The temporary order takes effect on Monday and runs until December 20th.
In order for businesses to stay open, patrons must wear a face mask and be at least six feet apart.
According to the directive, schools and day camps can remain open. However, day camps as well as high school and undergraduate schools must close for two weeks if an outbreak is reported, which the county has identified as three or more cases in 14 days.
Last week, California officials announced a curfew that prohibited nearly all residents of the state from leaving their homes to do trivial work or gather between 10 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The new order to stay at home was described as more limited than the governor’s spring order; in addition to applying it overnight only, it has a built-in expiration date for the time being and only applies to so-called purple counties, which have the strictest restrictions on the state in their reopening plan. He is in place until the morning of December 21st.
“We’re giving an alert,” Governor Gavin Newsom said when the order was issued. “It is crucial that we take action to reduce transmission and slow hospital care before the death toll jumps. We’ve done it before and we need to do it again.
On Sunday, the county ordered most restaurants to eliminate outdoor and indoor dining from Wednesday, limiting these businesses to buyout, drive-through and delivery services, and provoking repercussions among restaurant owners whose businesses have been overthrown.
Shawn Hubler of Sacramento and John Ismay of Arlington (Va) reported.