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Health and Medicine

California Lifts COVID-19 Stay-At-Home Orders For All Regions

Andrew Nixon
Zach Erickson measures to make sure tables are socially distanced at Hop Garden Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

After nearly two months, California health officials on Monday lifted the regional stay-at-home order across the state, making way for businesses like restaurants, gyms and hair salons to reopen with some restrictions.

State health officials say they lifted the order because the 4-week projection of intensive care unit capacity in each of the five regions is above the 15% threshold. California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said that’s largely because the expected holiday surge of new COVID-19 cases “did not overwhelm the health care system to the degree we had feared.”

“California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been hoping for,” Ghaly wrote in a statement.

Despite loosening restrictions, state health officials wrote in their announcement that "the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over," and advised Californians to continue wearing masks, maintain social distancing and avoid gatherings with people outside their households.

As in previous weeks, and despite some pushback, the state has not released what the 4-week ICU projections are for each region. Nor has the state released the formula used to reach those projections.

California Health and Human Services Agency spokeswoman Kate Folmar told the Associated Press that projected ICU capacity is based on variables like available beds and staffing.

“These fluid, on-the-ground conditions cannot be boiled down to a single data point — and to do so would mislead and create greater uncertainty for Californians,” she said in a statement to the AP.

Still, ICUs across California are being flooded with new patients who have contracted COVID-19. As of Saturday day, Jan. 23 — the state’s most recent data — ICUs in the San Joaquin Valley Region are at 1.3% capacity and ones in Southern California are at zero percent capacity.

California officials said they took multiple actions to increase ICU capacity statewide, such as deploying 4,100 medical workers to understaffed facilities, vaccinating health providers to keep staffing levels up, opening 16 alternate care sites for COVID-19 patients in recovery and changing state rules to make it easier to transfer patients between hospitals.

The Greater Sacramento Region emerged from the stay-at-home order on Jan. 3, after state officials said the area’s ICU projections exceeded 15%, allowing counties to reenter California’s colored tier system.

As of Saturday, the Greater Sacramento Region’s ICU capacity is 11.9%, still below the threshold state officials created for counties to exit stay-at-home orders.

Under the colored tier system, officials update weekly movement between tiers. Sacramento and surrounding counties are still in the most restrictive purple tier, and can’t move into a less restrictive tier until case and test-positivity rates improve.

All but four counties — Alpine, Mariposa, Sierra and Trinity — will return to the most-restrictive purple tier, covering 99.9% of all Californians.

Under the purple tier, restaurants can open for outdoor dining, places of worship can hold outdoor services and gyms can reopen outdoors. Personal care businesses such as barbershops, nail salons, hair salons and tattoo parlors can reopen indoors with modifications.

Here's what will be reopening today for all purple tier counties:

  • Restaurants — outdoor and take-out only, with modifications
  • Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons — indoor with modifications
  • Museums, zoos, aquariums — outdoor with modifications
  • Movie theatres — outdoor only with modifications
  • Hotels and lodging — open with modifications
  • Wineries — outdoor with modifications
  • Family entertainment centers — outdoor only with modifications
  • Cardrooms — outdoor only with modifications

Here’s what was already allowed under the stay-at-home order and remains open without changes:

  • Retail/grocery
  • Libraries
  • Gyms and fitness centers — outdoor only with modifications
  • Places of worship — outdoor only, maximum 100 people
  • Farmers Markets
  • Event centers — outdoor only with modifications
  • Professional sports — without live audiences

There's a full list of what businesses can reopen under what restrictions for each county here.

While the state said these businesses and activities can reopen immediately, local health orders may need to be updated in some counties first.