On the same day that Los Angeles County reported just under 13,000 new coronavirus cases and 227 deaths, the state on Tuesday extended stay-at-home orders for most of California, including the ban on outdoor dining.
Among other areas, the restrictions cover Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, which are in the Covid-19 red zone with no intensive care unit hospital beds available, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The extended order, which had been expected, will also mean most county retail businesses will remain limited to 20 percent of indoor capacity. Some businesses will stay shuttered, including hair and nail salons. Hotel stays for tourism also remains off limits. Noting the Covid surge, the state recently extended a program to temporarily house the homeless in hotels. “Project Roomkey,” which had been winding down, has accomodated thousands of homeless in L.A. and other cities.
Last week, L.A. County’s health officials also recommended the film industry halt production until the situation improves.
The state’s stay-at-home order took effect Dec. 6 and had been set to expire this week. But with the rapid rise of Covid cases and deaths statewide — and with hospitals increasingly overwhelmed — Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated in the days before Christmas that restrictions would remain throughout the holiday season.
Around the same time the governor made those remarks, a Sherman Oaks restaurant owner filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the state’s ban on outdoor dining, charging the measure is unconstitutional and not backed by science.
The plaintiff, Angela Marsden, owns Pineapple Hill Saloon & Grill. Her attorney, Mark Geragos, who himself owns a restaurant in Downtown L.A., claimed without explanation the county was “the world epicenter of Covid because science isn’t driving the government decisions; lobbyists are.” He added that “tragically, tens of thousands of small businesses are the ones who pay the price.”
State officials said the stay-at-home order for Southern California would be eased when ICU bed capacity reaches or exceeds 15 percent, according to the report. Besides bed capacity, the other factors the state takes into account are the rate of ICU admissions, the seven-day average coronavirus case rate and the virus transmission rate.
The existing stay-at-home order now covers about 99 percent of the population, 23 counties that include L.A., Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Joaquin. San Francisco and four other Bay Area counties also decided to implement the order earlier this month. [LAT] — Alexi Friedman