Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to suspend regional orders for coronavirus stays across California on Monday. This change could allow restaurants and gyms in many counties to reopen outdoor restaurants and services.
All counties are reverting to the colored tier system, which assigns local risk levels based on case numbers and positive test rates for COVID-19 infection, according to sources notified of the plan by the governor’s office.
Most counties are placed in the “widespread” risk level, which allows hair salons to offer limited indoor services but restricts many other non-essential indoor operations. The change is expected to take effect immediately after Newsom’s announcement on Monday.
It’s far from clear whether the decision will ease the home-stay rules in Los Angeles County, which has become a national epicenter for the coronavirus and whose hospitals are overwhelmed by patients. In less than a month more than 5,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the county alone.
Even so, the ban on eating outside was very controversial. Some elected officials and the restaurant industry fought in court to get it overturned. Officials in several other counties in Southern California were even more critical of the state-imposed rules and had urged Newsom to give them more local control.
The governor announced the regional home stay orders on Dec. 3 to ease the burden on hospitals as the number of cases increased. While state data shows hospital systems in southern California and the San Joaquin Valley remain tight, the Newsom administration told officials on Sunday that intensive care capacity in these areas will exceed 15% – a threshold – in these areas over the next four weeks for lifting the regional stoppages.
State officials never released full details of how the four-week calculations were performed in the ICU. And while services were allowed to reopen in the Sacramento area on December 13, daily reports of ICU beds available never reached the 15% threshold deemed necessary to lift restrictions. The out-of-home ICU capacity in the Northern California area continues to exceed the state shutdown benchmarks.
The Bay Area, which reported 23.4% capacity, was still on the “stay-at-home” mandate due to a four-week forecast of a decline in hospital bed availability. Southern California had no ICU capacity, and the San Joaquin Valley area reported 1.3% on Saturday, according to state data.
John Myers and Paloma Esquivel contributed to this report.