The state of California has issued a new “limited stay-at-home” order for all counties currently listed on the Purple Tier, including Los Angeles County. The new order also comes with a nightly curfew, which will go into effect on Saturday and be in place through at least December 21.
“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” Governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday. “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”
Due to the rise in #COVID19 cases, CA is issuing a limited Stay at Home Order.
Non-essential work and gatherings must stop from 10pm-5am in counties in the purple tier.
This will take effect at 10pm on Saturday and remain for 1 month.
Together–we can flatten the curve again.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) November 19, 2020
This new curfew order goes beyond the “business curfew” established by Los Angeles County, which primarily applies to bar and restaurant service. Under this guideline, all non-essential activities and gatherings of any kind must cease between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Under the soft curfew status, essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurant take-out and delivery operations, will continue to be allowed during the nighttime hours. It is also fine to go outdoors for limited outdoor exercise or pet care.
The real target of the order is socializing and gathering. Experts have expressed a great deal of concern that, with cases already escalating, social gatherings, such as for Thanksgiving, could quickly become super-spreader events. In these kinds of settings, either at home or at outdoor dining facilities, participants are more likely to be less careful about masking, distancing, and other protocols.
“We are asking Californians to change their personal behaviors to stop the surge. We must be strong together and make tough decisions to stay socially connected but physically distanced during this critical time. Letting our guard down could put thousands of lives in danger and cripple our health care system,” said Dr. Erica Pan, the state’s acting Public Health Officer.
As of now, it is unclear what authorities will be responsible for enforcing the curfew, and what consequences might exist for those who break the rules, particularly the limitations on socializing at private homes.
“I know it’s hard to imagine how to enforce some of this. You may say, ‘Well, how am I ever going to be known, if I’m doing that at home?'” Dr. Mark Ghaly acknowledged at a press briefing, describing a more informal approach to enforcement. “We’ve always depended on a partnership with you.”
Sheriffs departments in multiple counties including Los Angeles and Orange County have affirmed that they do not intend to actively enforce the curfew. In a tweet, L.A. County Sheriff Villanueva said that authorities are “focused on education and voluntary compliance, with criminal enforcement measures being an extreme last resort.”
This approach is consistent with how public health orders have been enforced throughout the pandemic. Response efforts have primarily targeted non-complying businesses, not individuals, and prioritized public health-based consequences such as warnings and utility shut-offs, rather than police actions. Large house parties or other gatherings that were already in violation of health orders prior to the curfew order are expected to be handled in the same manner as previously.
The statewide announcement comes just hours after Los Angeles County reported a record-breaking 5,031 new cases of the disease. That is the highest single-day total since testing began.