Most of California under new strict 3-week lockdown rules
The new stay-at-home order affects around 85% of California’s 40 million people. It will be in place for at least three weeks and cover the Christmas holiday.
The new order will see many businesses closed and people are banned from meeting anyone outside their household.
On Sunday, the US had a record number of people in hospital with Covid-19.
The country has seen a sharp rise in cases and Covid-related deaths in recent weeks, a surge that could be partly down to last month’s Thanksgiving holiday, which saw millions of Americans travel around the US.
The new restrictions were triggered by intensive care capacity in hospital shrinking.
The measures apply to the southern part of the state and its central valley, while other areas are likely to follow within days. San Francisco has gone into lockdown, with the mayor imposing a separate set of orders.
California’s lockdown in March was seen as an early model for the US at the beginning of the pandemic.
What are the restrictions?
Gavin Newsom has ordered that when capacity at intensive care units in any of five regions of the state goes below 15%, that region will go into lockdown within 24 hours.
The stay-at-home orders triggered in this way will be similar to the order issued in March, but has a few significant relaxations:
- All retail stores are able to stay open, although only at 20% capacity, along with outside spaces such as parks and beaches
- Gatherings are prohibited, and people are required to stay at home and minimise contact with other households
- Bars, hair salons and indoor restaurants are closed
The lockdown will last for at least three weeks, and until ICU capacity goes above 15% again. Mr Newsom said the measures would help to “flatten the curve” and reduce the pressure on health services.
“We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California’s hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks,” he said last week.
Why has this happened?
What’s happening in California is a reflection of the rise in infections across the US. The state has the largest number of confirmed cases in the US and it reported an additional 30,000 infections on Sunday, a new record.
It has recorded more than 1.3 million cases and around 21,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Intensive care capacity in two of the five regions set up by state officials for the purposes of the stay-at-home order – Southern California and the central San Joaquin Valley – fell below 15% on Friday.
Southern California, which includes Los Angeles and San Diego, the state’s two largest cities, fell to 12.5% on Saturday, and San Joaquin to just 8.6%.
Entertainment industry counts as “essential”
The entertainment industry is allowed to keep operating – providing they follow social-distancing and mask rules – as they are being counted as essential workers.
The Independent reported a California restaurant owner posted a tearful video complaining about her patio being closed, while a film company shot scenes next door.
Bar owner in Los Angeles CA is livid to see that mayor Garcetti has approved an outdoor dining area for a movie company directly across from her outdoor dining area (which was shut down) pic.twitter.com/jkUP2CWg35
— Jake Coco 💙🇺🇸🎶🐻 (@jakecoco) December 4, 2020
Ms Marsden was angered to discover that the caterers for a film crew – shooting the NBC crime drama Good Girls – had set up an almost identical arrangement to her closed restaurant a few feet away.
“I am losing everything,” she said, struggling to maintain her composure.
“Everything I own is being taken away from me. And they set up a movie company right next to my patio, which is right here.”
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