LOS ANGELES - California officials are cracking down as coronavirus infection rates soar with the approaching holiday season, along with colder weather and the flu season. Both the state and Los Angeles County have issued their own health orders and it can be a bit confusing, so we're breaking it down for you.
Which order takes priority?
The state's health order is the top health order. Individual counties can be more restrictive than the state's health order, but they cannot be less restrictive.
What does the state health order require?
The state health order places a daily curfew on all counties in the "purple tier" in the state's COVID-19 reopening metrics, which accounts for 94% of the state’s nearly 40 million residents. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. daily, residents in the state's most-restrictive tier are asked to stay home.
During those hours, all non-essential work, movement and gatherings are prohibited.
While nonessential businesses must close by 10 p.m., restaurants will be permitted to offer food for takeout and delivery. In addition, people can do some routine activities like walking the dog, officials said. They will still be able to get medical care, pick up prescriptions and take care of other essential needs.
The order will take effect at 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21 and will remain in effect until 5 a.m. December 21.
What does Los Angeles County's health order require?
Los Angeles County officials said their new order is not a curfew, however, beginning Friday, all restaurants, breweries, wineries, bars and nonessential businesses will be required to close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. Restaurants with outdoor dining, breweries and wineries across Los Angeles County will also be reduced to 50% capacity.
Additionally, services at salons and other personal care businesses may only be provided by appointment and customers and staff must wear face coverings. Services such as facials that require customers to remove their face coverings are not permitted.
All gatherings must be outdoors and limited to 15 people from no more than three households.
So does the curfew last until 5 a.m. or 6 a.m.?
While the state's curfew ends daily at 5 a.m., businesses in Los Angeles County will be required to remain closed until 6 a.m.
Will the curfew be enforced?
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said he would not enforce a nighttime curfew for restaurants and nonessential retail businesses in the nation’s most populous county, where cases more than doubled in the last two weeks and hospitalizations rose 30%.
"If we get a complaint, we'll investigate, we'll respond to the location, we'll contact the owner and ask them to comply," Sheriff Villanueva told FOX 11. "If they don't, we have the option of doing a citation, we can also prepare a criminal report for violating a health order and we'll turn it over to the Department of Public Health and let them decide what to do with it."
Are stricter restrictions possible?
Yes, stricter restrictions are quite possible.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday that if the county exceeds a five-day average of 4,000 new COVID-19 cases or exceeds 1,750 daily hospitalizations, the county would implement a full reclosure of dine-in services at restaurants, breweries, wineries, and bars. They would only be permitted to serve customers for pickup and delivery.
If COVID-19 continues to worsen, Ferrer said that the county would re-issue a safer-at-home order if the five-day average of COVID-19 cases exceeds 4,500 or if hospitalizations exceed 2,000 per day. If that happened, the order would remain in effect for at least three weeks.
It would also result in a mandatory 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, with the exception of essential and emergency workers. However, that is already required by the state from 10 p.m. through 5 a.m., so it would only extend that curfew one hour.
Unfortunately, in Los Angeles County, both of these additional restrictions are quite possible.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Health Officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, reported a record-setting 5,031 new coronavirus cases, the highest ever reported in a single day during the pandemic. The county reported high numbers on Wednesday as well, with 3,944 new cases.
Davis said that with Thursday's record case number, the county now has a two-day average of about 4,500 cases -- the threshold for implementing the stay-at-home restrictions.
If case numbers continue on the current trajectory, the county could impose another safer-at-home order as early as Sunday.