Stay-at-home order will be imposed in Southern California and San Joaquin Valley

A sign says "Masks Are Required" and a shopper exits a store next to it.
Customers are reminded they must wear masks at the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall in Arcadia.
(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

The new lockdown will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, the state confirmed


Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley will enter into a new stay-at-home order late Sunday as hospital intensive care unit capacity continues to drop and COVID-19 cases soar.

The regions will implement the new order at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, the state confirmed.

The new order, which will remain in place for at least three weeks, is triggered when a region’s intensive care unit capacity drops below 15%.

The Southern California region’s capacity was 12.5% as of Saturday and the San Joaquin Valley’s was 8.6%, according to data released by the state.

The order will be felt across the region but more dramatically in suburban counties like Orange, Ventura and Riverside, which have far less strident restrictions that Los Angeles County, which imposed its own modified stay-at-home order a week ago. The state has included in Southern California’s region the following counties: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

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Affected communities will be required to close personal service businesses, including hair and nail salons, playgrounds, zoos, museums, aquariums and wineries. Overnight, short-term stays at campgrounds will be prohibited. Restaurants will be required to return to takeout service only.

Retail businesses will be limited to 20% of their customer capacity inside at any one time, with requirements for store officials to ensure there’s no indoor drinking or eating.

Unlike the shutdown Gov. Gavin Newsom issued in the spring, most outdoor activities, including beach access and hiking, will not be affected. Similar to other state government rules, the order allows local leaders to impose public health rules that are stricter. But stronger orders by the state would supersede more permissive local orders. That means the expected implementation of the order in Southern California would require, for example, restaurants to shutter outdoor dining currently allowed in their local jurisdiction.

The new restrictions appear to remove the distinction between essential and nonessential retail — a 20% cap on capacity at all stores is likely to significantly reduce capacity at essential retailers, including supermarkets and drugstores. In most of the state, essential stores had been capped at 50% of capacity; in L.A. County, they were capped at 35%; and in Santa Clara County, 25%.

Cardrooms will be required to shut down, and hotels won’t be allowed to accept tourists.

The new order requires Californians to stay home and minimize their interactions with other households as much as possible.

Entertainment production and professional sports continue to be allowed without a live audience. Santa Clara County, however, on Monday enacted a ban on contact sports, forcing the San Francisco 49ers to temporarily relocate to Arizona for the team’s December games.

On Friday night, the California Department of Public Health released new numbers showing that Southern California as well as the San Joaquin Valley now face a critical shortage of ICU beds, with each area having less than 15% of its capacity available. Those numbers fell further Saturday.

Currently available ICU capacity by region as of Saturday:

  • Bay Area: 21.7%
  • Greater Sacramento Region: 21.4%
  • Rural Northern California: 24.1%
  • San Joaquin Valley: 8.6%
  • Southern California: 12.5%

“Today we had 22,000 cases, yesterday we had 18,700,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, the California Health and Human Services secretary, said Friday in an interview. “At these levels ... it tells you that the hospitals in just two weeks are going to be much more impacted than they are now.”

The news came as California and Los Angeles County on Friday set all-time records for coronavirus cases reported in a single day.

A county-by-county tally by The Times found that more than 22,300 coronavirus cases were reported across California on Friday alone, exceeding the record set Monday, when 21,848 cases were reported. The Times tallied 204 deaths reported Friday, the second highest total recorded in a single day of the entire pandemic.

Cumulatively, California has reported 1.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 19,700 deaths.

L.A. County has broken single-day coronavirus case records in three of the last four days this week. On Friday, 8,562 cases were reported, according to The Times’ tally, breaking the record set Thursday, when 7,713 were reported.

The latest maps and charts on the spread of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, including cases, deaths, closures and restrictions.

There were also 56 deaths recorded in L.A. County, a single-day tally not seen since Aug. 19.

The county hit its fifth consecutive daily record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 2,769 people currently hospitalized. Of those, nearly a quarter are in intensive care, where numbers have tripled in the last six weeks.

Statewide over the last week, the state has averaged more than 17,800 new cases per day, according to data compiled by The Times.

Newsom’s latest stay-at-home order has faced criticism from all sides, with some saying it’s too restrictive and will kill small businesses, while others question whether the rules are tough enough, wondering why malls will be allowed to stay open.

But many public health experts say the orders may well be the best — and possibly the only — way to slow the rapid spread of the virus.

What’s the reasoning behind Los Angeles County’s new restrictions designed to stop the coronavirus from spreading? We assess the science behind each one.

Playgrounds had been shut since the early days of the pandemic in March and began to reopen only in late September. Since then, however, it’s become clear that kids and adults from different households still get pretty close to one another at a play structure, and some don’t wear masks, Ghaly said, even though that’s a requirement for those age 2 or older.

In addition, there’s no real way to enforce a capacity limit at many playgrounds, said Kate Folmar, a spokeswoman for the California Health and Human Services Agency.

— Los Angeles Times story