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Newsom Announces Sweeping New Stay-at-Home Order

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced a sweeping new stay-at-home order that will force the shutdown of many businesses and activities in vast regions across California where hospital intensive care units are nearing capacity due to soaring COVID-19 rates.

Health officials, Newsom said, will track ICU capacity in five regions the state has designated as the Bay Area, Northern California, the greater Sacramento region, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

The order will go into effect for an entire region  for at least three weeks within 48 hours of that region’s overall hospital ICU capacity dropping below 15%.

The order mandates the closure of a wide swath of businesses and activities, akin to those forced to close during the first statewide shutdown in March.

Businesses that must close when the order is triggered include:

Hair salons Indoor recreation centers Movie theaters Bars and wineries Personal care services Museums Outdoor playgrounds

Restaurants will only be allowed to offer take-out and delivery service – even outdoor dining will be prohibited – and occupancy at grocery stores and other retail outlets will be reduced to 20% capacity. Additionally, the order restricts all nonessential travel. As it currently stands, the order does not impact schools — those that are currently open can remain so.

None of the five regions currently meet the threshold to trigger the order, Newsom said, but all are projected to reach it within days except the Bay Area, where the order will likely take effect by mid-December.

Individual counties will be eligible to emerge from their regional order after three weeks if their hospital ICU capacity, projected four weeks out, increases to at least 15%, at which point they will go back to the color-coded reopening tier system the state has been using. But the chances of that happening anytime soon is slim, Newsom said, anticipating that the entire state will likely remain under the order into early 2021.

Read the full story and explore a map showing Caifornia’s ICU capacity here.

—Matthew Green (@MGreenKQED)

Copyright 2020 KQED