California is lifting the nationwide stay-at-home Covid order and permitting eating places to reopen
A person wearing a protective mask arranges a table outside a restaurant in San Francisco, California, July 14, 2020.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
California will cancel its home stay order across the state on Monday, paving the way for restaurants and personal care services to reopen with operations changed for the first time in weeks, according to a statement from the state health department.
The stay-at-home order, first announced by Governor Gavin Newsom on December 3, divided the state into five regions and was based on the available ICU capacity of an area. Three of those regions – the San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area, and Southern California – were still in the works before they were lifted on Monday.
As part of the order, restaurants were only allowed to offer take-out and delivery services, and personal care businesses such as hair salons and barbershops were forced to close. Retailers were allowed to stay open with limited capacity. The state is expected to revert to its tiered county-to-county system that will allow businesses to reopen based on the level of Covid-19 prevalent in their area.
Almost every county will start at the most widespread, restrictive reopening stage, which means many businesses, including restaurants and gyms, are only allowed to reopen for outdoor services, according to the California Department of Health. Retailers can reopen their stores at a quarter of their capacity below the most widely used level.
State health officials are now predicting that ICU capacity, the percentage of beds used, will drop below 85% in each region in four weeks after running at or near maximum capacity for weeks. This will allow Newsom to hold the home stay order across California. The Sacramento region left the Order as early as Jan. 12, and the Northern California region never joined the order, the state health department said.
“California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous wave of this pandemic, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we were hoping for,” said California Health and Welfare Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly in a statement.
“Seven weeks ago our hospitals and health professionals had reached their limits, but the Californians heard the urgent message to stay home if possible, and our post-December vacation recovery did not overwhelm the health system as much as we feared,” Said Ghaly.
According to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, California reports an average of 25,256 new Covid-19 cases each day, a decrease of more than 35% from the previous week.
According to the COVID Tracking Project, which is carried out by journalists in the Atlantic, 18,638 people with Covid-19 have currently been hospitalized.
Just because the state lifted the order doesn’t mean that every county has to allow companies to return. The California Reopening Plan allows local jurisdictions to impose stricter restrictions if necessary.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who temporarily put stricter restrictions on San Francisco County, said Monday the area will allow most businesses to reopen under the phased reopening plan starting Thursday. Restaurants can have al fresco dining, with a limited number of customers per table. Hotels can resume reservations from tourists and personal hygiene can resume for indoor and outdoor services.
An order that limits non-essential business and gatherings from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. remains in effect, even if the state order expires after a declaration by the mayor’s office.
Los Angeles County’s health officials said they would announce a new order Friday that would allow alfresco dining with safety changes after Newsom canceled orders for staying in California at home.