By Randyl Drummer CoStar News January 25, 2021 | 3:38 P.M.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom canceled the stay-at-home order for 90% of his state's 40 million residents, a move that could allow restaurants in many counties to reopen outdoor dining at reduced occupancy and barbers and hair salons to offer limited indoor services.
The order, effective immediately, lifts regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders across the state that were imposed in December and reverts all 58 counties to the previous colored tier system based on new coronavirus case numbers and hospitalization rates.
"We have seen a flattening of the curve but we're not out of the woods," Newsom said at a news briefing on Monday. "Case rates, positivity rates, hospitalizations are coming down, and testing and vaccination rates are starting to go up."
California has struggled with some of the highest new caseload and hospitalization rates in the nation since last fall. Intensive care units reached near capacity in Los Angeles and other areas, prompting Newsom to initiate the regional order last month that forced many businesses that had reopened for the second time to close again.
Now, the surge is slowing in California as the state ramps up vaccines and testing and prepares to distribute billions in federal stimulus as the Biden administration and Congress attempt to get a handle on the 10-month-long pandemic.
Under the more targeted county-based tier system, restaurants in many counties may be able to reopen outdoor dining while hair care shops may be able to offer limited indoor services.
Both types of businesses have filed lawsuits against the state as the closings have caused numerous restaurants and other businesses to close, many permanently, and lay off employees during the staggering economic hardship caused by the pandemic.
The California Restaurant Association, an advocacy group for the restaurant industry, sent a letter on Sunday informing its members of the "good news" that the state would lift the regional order today. It noted on its website that, while the action removes the state’s prohibition on outdoor dining, it returns authority to each local health department to determine if they will align with the state or be more restrictive.
Most of the state's urban counties, including those in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, fall under the state's most restrictive purple tier, with a seven-day average of more than seven new daily cases per 100,000 people and more than 8% of positive COVID-19 tests. The purple tier requires nonessential businesses such as offices, theme parks and massage businesses to remain closed. LA Cases Declinin gLos Angeles County, which has the nation's highest confirmed case count, is expected to align with the state "by the end of the week," allowing restaurants and other businesses to cautiously reopen, Hilda Solis, chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, said during a Monday briefing.
Outdoor dining is planned to resume and other businesses will be allowed to reopen on Friday, Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during the county briefing.
"With the Super Bowl coming up and people going to parties at other people's homes, the situation can change overnight and more restrictions may be needed if hospitalization rates rise again," Solis said. "We need to be vigilant and do what's best for our residents."
The previous order by Newsom in December required the state's five regions, Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, greater Sacramento, the San Joaquin Valley and Northern California, to go under strict stay-at-home orders, including suspension of restaurant dining and closing of hair salons, if their projected intensive care unit capacity fell below 15%.
The regional order for greater Sacramento was lifted two weeks ago, and Northern California never fell below the 15% threshold, but Southern California and the Bay Area have been under lockdown since last month as the availability of ICU facilities fell to nearly zero in Los Angeles and other areas.
Southern California is now expected to have 33.3% ICU capacity by Feb. 21, exceeding the projected statewide average of 30.3%, with the Bay Area at 25% and San Joaquin Valley at 22.3%, under new projections by the California Public Health Department.
For now, however, 54 of the state's 58 counties are in the purple tier, with four rural counties under the less restrictive red and orange tier.
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