On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a new order Thursday that will likely shut down in-person dining across most of the state.
Under a new plan, the Golden State’s 58 counties are divided into five regions: Northern California, Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California. If the ICU bed availability falls below 15 percent in a region, then a stay-at-home order will be triggered, which would force restaurants to offer takeout and delivery only. Most of California has already closed indoor dining, and Los Angeles County—except for Pasadena—has shuttered outdoor dining, as well.
The order goes into effect on Saturday. When a region falls below the threshold, it must enact the stay-at-home order within 24 hours. Once the order goes into effect, it will last at least three weeks. After that period, counties will be eligible to move out of the order if the ICU capacity projected four weeks out reaches 15 percent.
On Thursday, the five regions had the following ICU availability: Bay Area, 25.3 percent, Greater Sacramento, 22.2 percent, Southern California, 20.6 percent, San Joaquin Valley, 19.7 percent, and Northern California, 18.6 percent.
Newsom said the state expects four of the five regions to move below the threshold in early December, while the Bay Area is projected to get there in mid-to-late December.
“We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California’s hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks,” said Newsom in a statement. “By invoking a Stay at Home Order for regions where ICU capacity falls below 15 percent, we can flatten the curve as we’ve done before and reduce stress on our health care system.”
The news comes after stay-at-home orders were passed down by both the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County. Outdoor dining is currently banned in the area, but the measure was challenged in court by the California Restaurant Association. Another hearing is scheduled on Tuesday for attorneys representing the L.A. County public health department to provide medical justification for the outdoor ban.
On Thursday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a local aid program that will provide 4,000 food service workers a one-time $800 stipend. To qualify, workers must live within L.A., make no more than $58,450 as of 2019, and show economic hardship or at least a 50 percent drop in income as a restaurant employee in the front or back of the house.
As of Wednesday, California has reported 1,264,539 cases and 19,437 have died. More than 8,000 are hospitalized and more than 2,000 are in the ICU.
“We know what a struggle this pandemic has been for so many California families, but our actions have saved countless lives,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services secretary, in a statement. “This targeted action will preserve vital ICU beds for people who need them—whether they’re COVID-19 patients or someone who has suffered a heart attack or a stroke.”