CSAC Bulletin Article

From Emergency Brake to Stop Signs; New State Orders Halt Late-Night Gatherings

November 20, 2020

The Newsom Administration, like the coronavirus, quickly changed gears starting at the end of last week with several important developments. . Last week, after joining Oregon and Washington to issue a travel advisory for non-essential holiday travel on November 13, the Governor expressed the need for a “dimmer switch.” What can now only be described as pulling the “emergency brake,” this week marks the beginning of a significant acceleration of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy tiering process and a new statewide public health order, leaving counties to grapple with its implications in the coming days and weeks.

Earlier this week, 28 additional counties were placed into the most-restrictive Purple Tier. With a single day to implement, the Purple Tier counties saw the closures of all indoor operations for restaurants, churches, and gyms. Counties also learned the state planned to move counties more than one tier at a time, using the most recent data – not data with a one- or two-week lag.  With the additional counties, the Purple Tier now covers 94 percent of the state’s population.

During the announcement of the 28 counties moving backwards, the Governor alluded to the possible need for more restrictions based on the rapidly rising transmission and case rates throughout the state. Yesterday,  California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced what has been reported as a curfew for Purple Tier counties shortly after the Governor’s office issued a press release. The Administration briefed CSAC and subsequently the general public on the requirements for counties, businesses and individuals to comply with this new, “limited stay-at-home order.”

The new order is designed to reduce the mixing of households, which in turn should decrease COVID-19 transmission, hospitalizations, and deaths. Secretary Ghaly also cited the recent rise in the statewide positivity rate from 3.3 percent on November 5 to 5.0 percent on Thursday as a compelling reason for new interventions.

What is this new order and what does it mean for counties?

  • Today’s state public health order generally prohibits non-essential work and gatherings between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • It applies only to counties in the Purple Tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
  • It goes into effect at 10 p.m. Saturday, November 21 in counties within the Purple Tier.  
  • Gatherings between more than one household are prohibited between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Non-essential businesses must close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., but restaurants may continue to offer take-out food past 10 p.m.
  • It is not a curfew for individuals or members of the same household, but instead applies only to gatherings or activities with members of other households. People from the same household may engage in activities outside the home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. (retrieve take-out food, walk the dog, etc.), as long as they are not interacting with members of other households.
  • The order is in effect until 5 a.m. on December 21.
  • If a county is subsequently placed into the Purple Tier, it will have two days to implement the order.
  • The order may be enforced locally and by state entities.

The new order, while unprecedented and certainly stringent, was substantially improved from earlier versions shared by the Newsom Administration with CSAC. Our members advocated for limiting this order to the Purple Tier, reducing the number of hours for closures, and allowing more than a single day to implement.

We should also note that as of Friday morning, no additional counties are being moved into a higher-risk tier. However, the state is still closely monitoring the data and may move a county or counties at any time during this surge in cases. 

Further, Dr. Ghaly indicated that the state is working to clarify guidance on tents for outdoor dining to assist restaurants with outdoor operations. The state may also issue further gathering guidance to cap the number of participants in any gathering – possibly at 12 individuals from no more than three households – although that number is subject to change. The state also issued stricter mask guidance earlier this week, which can be found below, and could expand today’s limited stay-at-home order if cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to rise.  

The Administration also stressed the importance of wearing masks, following the state travel advisory, mask guidance, and said they are working to reactivate the state’s 11 medical surge facilities, starting with the one in Imperial County.

Limited Stay-at-Home Order Resources:

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