California officials on Thursday announced a curfew aimed at quickly curbing an outbreak of coronavirus infections, barring nearly all residents of the state, the country’s most populous, from leaving their homes to do non-essential work or gather from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., in the most severe lockdown since the state implemented its first stay-at-home order in March.
“We are sounding the alarm bells,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “It is essential that we take action to reduce transmission and slow hospitalizations before the number of deaths increases. We have done it before and we must do it again.
[Track California’s coronavirus cases by county.]
The new stay-at-home order is described as more limited than the spring order; in addition to only applying overnight, it has a built-in expiration date at the moment and only applies to so-called purple level counties, which are subject to the state’s tightest restrictions. in its plan to reopen.
It will come into effect on Saturday evening and will remain in place until the morning of December 21.
As with the Spring Order, residents can still go out for a walk or go to work in jobs deemed essential, such as in grocery stores, and this does not apply to homeless people. Restaurants, considered essential, can continue to make take-out meals and deliveries.
But that effectively forces all restaurants to close in-person operations at 10 p.m., even if they are operating out of doors.
As with the spring ordinance, it will likely be enforced differently statewide, depending on the severity of the violations and the attitudes of local leaders. Officials did not specify what law enforcement might look like.
[Read the full order here.]
The move comes amid what California officials and experts have described as an alarming – but not yet irreversible – wave of new infections, heading into a dangerous Thanksgiving week.
According to the Times database, the state was reporting a weekly average of 9,974 new cases per day, more than double the average two weeks ago.
On Monday, Mr Newsom said the state was “pulling the emergency brake” on its plan to reopen, which classifies counties in the geographically and demographically diverse extent that is California into restriction levels based on their size. number of cases and their positivity rates.
The counties where more than 94% of the state’s population live – including Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara and San Diego counties – fall into the state’s most restrictive purple level, this which means that most businesses have had to close or downsize their domestic operations. Indoor restaurants were closed.
Arenas and other sites where the state created additional healthcare space at the start of the pandemic were once again ready to receive patients quickly, if hospitals were overwhelmed.
And the governor on Monday had hinted that other restrictions, including a curfew, could be on their way.
Officials in Los Angeles County – which has struggled for months more than many other parts of the state – have also announced stricter restrictions than those required by the state, including a curfew for restaurants and non-essential stores. From Friday, they must close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The county has ordered restaurants operating outside to halve their capacity, and officials said they may be forced to resort to more restrictions like the aggressive lockdown that kept Californians at home in March if conditions do not improve quickly.
[Read more about what counts as an essential business from March.]
Earlier in the week, Dr Bob Wachter, professor and president of the University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine, said the state’s actions were justified to curb the spread of the virus, particularly to the light of the impending holidays.
“Whether that’s enough or not, I guess we’ll see,” he said.
Times analysis shows states that have imposed more restrictions have fewer severe outbreaks, and California was the first state to put in place a stay-at-home order in March.
Less is known about the effectiveness of curfews, but officials in New York recently took a similar step.
According to Curbed, many public health officials have described measures like the one California announced on Thursday as weaker home stay orders, not curfews, and see them as less helpful than advice. more targeted.
[Read about California’s rules for gathering.]
Mr Newsom announced the curfew in a press release, waiving his usual long virtual press conference, following harsh criticism and outrage over his decision to attend a high value dinner celebrating the birthday of a lobbyist friend at the French Laundry, a Napa Valley destination, as well as members of several other households.
Critics said Mr Newsom has undermined the spirit of the restrictions he has so intensely promoted – to the point of even scolding residents for hanging out in too large groups or hugging loved ones.
On Monday, he apologized, calling it a “big mistake”.
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Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley and has reported statewide, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.