California lifts statewide Covid stay-at-home order, allowing restaurants 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 lift its stay-at-home order across the state on Monday, paving the way for restaurants and personal care services to reopen with modified operations for the first time in weeks, according to a statement from the state’s health department.

The stay-at-home order, which Gov. Gavin Newsom first announced on Dec. 3, split the state into five regions and was based on an area’s available intensive care unit capacity. Three of those regions — San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area and Southern California — were still under the order before it was lifted Monday.

Under the order, restaurants were allowed to offer take-out and delivery services only, and personal care businesses like hair salons and barbershops were ordered to close. Retailers were allowed to remain open with limited capacity. The state is expected to move back to its county-by-county tiered system, which will allow businesses to reopen depending on the level of Covid-19 spread in their area.

Nearly every county will start off in the most widespread, restrictive reopening tier, meaning that many businesses, including restaurants and gyms, will be allowed to reopen for outdoor services only, according to the California Department of Public Health. Retailers will be allowed to reopen their businesses at a quarter of their capacity under the most widespread tier.

State health officials now project that ICU capacity, the percentage beds in use, in every region will drop below 85% in four weeks after running at or close to max capacity for weeks. That allows Newsom to lift the stay-at-home order across California. The Sacramento region already exited the order on Jan. 12 and the Northern California region never entered the order, the state’s health department said.

“California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been hoping for,” California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in a statement.

“Seven weeks ago, our hospitals and front-line medical workers were stretched to their limits, but Californians heard the urgent message to stay home when possible and our surge after the December holidays did not overwhelm the health care system to the degree we had feared,” Ghaly said.

California is reporting roughly 25,256 new Covid-19 cases a day on average, a more than 35% decline compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

There are now 18,638 people hospitalized with Covid-19, a recent dip across the state but still more than double the number of patients on Dec. 1, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, which is run by journalists at The Atlantic. 

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