Bay Area avoids state’s new ‘stay home’ order – for now

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Bay Area counties are not subject the state’s “stay-home” order, for now.

In response to an ongoing COVID-19 case surge threatening to overwhelm intensive care capacity (ICU) at state hospitals, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new Regional Stay Home Order for state regions with less than 15 percent ICU capacity.

The new order does not immediately impact the Bay Area region, one of five regions under the state’s latest plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, the state projects the Bay Area — listed by the state as having 25.3 percent ICU capacity as of Thursday — could fall below the 15 percent threshold by mid- to late-December, according to County officials.

The other four regions are Northern California (currently at 18.6 percent ICU capacity), Greater Sacramento (22.2 percent), San Joaquin Valley (19.7 percent) and Southern California (20.6 percent). Those regions are projected to fall below the ICU threshold within days.

Once a region falls below 15 percent, a three-week stay-at-home order would take effect instructing Californians to stay at home as much as possible, prohibiting gatherings of any size and closing or imposing capacity restrictions at many businesses except for critical infrastructure. Under the order, playgrounds must close, as well as hair salons and barbershops, personal care services, museums, movie theaters, and bars, among others.

Both indoor and outdoor dining would be prohibited, although takeout and delivery services would be allowed. Indoor retail would be allowed at 20 percent capacity.

Travel about town would be allowed only for critical services such as shopping for groceries or visiting a doctor, but  the new order allows outdoor activities to preserve physical and mental health.

The stay-at-home order is intended to stop a statewide surge in COVID-19 cases and prevent overwhelming regional ICU capacity.

County Health and other local officials said they are “closely monitoring the situation and will update residents if the region’s status changes.”

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