Breaking down new COVID-19 orders in Los Angeles and California

As cases and hospitalizations rise statewide, new orders are taking effect this week.

Downtown Los Angeles (Photo by Olenka Kotyk on Unsplash)

This article has been updated to reflect recent changes made to regulations.

New COVID-19 regulations were issued this week on both a statewide and local level.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the Regional Stay At Home Order on Dec. 3. It will go into effect on a region-by-region basis in any region with less than 15% ICU actual capacity within 48 hours for at least three weeks and will then be re-evaluated on a weekly basis.

Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti also instituted a targeted safer at home order on Dec. 2. Similar to the stay-at-home order enacted at the beginning of the pandemic, residents of the city of Los Angeles are required to stay indoors unless leaving for essential purposes.

These new orders come right as Los Angeles County faced record-breaking numbers of cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 over the past two weeks. The county reported a record 7,593 new cases and 2,316 hospitalizations on Dec. 1. By Dec. 3, those numbers rose to another record high of 7,854 new cases and 2,572 hospitalizations.

The city order seemingly mirrors the restrictions imposed by Los Angeles County on Nov. 30.

Alex Comisar, a spokesman for Eric Garcetti told the Los Angeles Times that, “the city and county orders are the same.”

The L.A. County order, announced on Nov. 17, greatly reduced occupancy in most businesses and banned all non-political or non-religious gatherings.

But the language in the new order from the city could potentially lead to some confusion. To better understand what is expected of Los Angeles residents, Annenberg Media has compiled the list of exceptional activities and businesses into three categories: Open with the implementation of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Reopening Protocol; open with specific stipulations; and prohibited.

Prohibited businesses and activities:

  • All public and private gatherings of any number with people outside of a household.
  • All travel, including, without limitation, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit unless used for essential business and purposes.

Open with the implementation of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Reopening Protocols:

  • Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and medical facilities.
  • Agricultural and horticultural cultivation.
  • Gas stations and automobile services.
  • Journalism and media entities.
  • Banks, credit unions, financial institutions and pawn shops.
  • Hardware and building supply stores, day labor centers, nurseries and horticulture wholesale distributors.
  • Mailing and shipping services.
  • Plumbers, electricians, day laborers, etc.
  • Laundromats.
  • Businesses that supply other essential services with support, services or supplies.
  • Individuals or business shipping products and supplies.
  • Home-based care for seniors, disabled persons, adults or children.
  • Residential facilities and shelters.
  • Hotels, motels, shared rental units, lodging and short-term rentals, RV parks and cabin rental units, and campgrounds.
  • Businesses that manufacture retail goods.
  • City parks and trails.
  • Golf and tennis (Pickleback).
  • Day camps.
  • Music and video production.
  • Outdoor areas of museums, galleries, aquariums and zoos.
  • Businesses renting outdoor equipment.
  • Small water vessel charters.
  • Organizations providing food, shelter and social services.
  • Playgrounds (As of Dec. 9).

Open with specific stipulations:

  • Breweries and wineries are closed for in-person food and beverage services but are allowed to remain open for indoor retail at 30% maximum indoor capacity.
  • Professional sports leagues and teams may continue to train and compete without spectators and with the implementation of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Protocol for Professional Sports Leagues and Facilities.
  • Libraries that are not on college and university campuses may remain open with 20% maximum capacity.
  • Personal care establishments like barbershops and salons may remain open but are limited to 20% of maximum capacity. These businesses are also not allowed to operate between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Customers are required to keep a mask on at all times, so services such as facials and shaves are prohibited.
  • Fitness facilities like gyms are open to outdoor operations only at 50% maximum capacity and are not allowed to operate between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Outdoor and indoor pools open to only one household may remain open. Pools open to more than one household are closed.
  • Piers are closed, but beaches are open for active recreation. Sunbathing, sitting and gathering is prohibited on beaches.
  • Recreational and cultural programming is prohibited but outdoor youth sports in conformance with reopening guidelines may continue.
  • All retail stores are open with the implementation of the Los Angeles Department of Public Health Protocols. Indoor retail stores must limit capacity to 20% of maximum capacity and are required to close between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. They are allowed to remain open during these hours only for delivery and curbside pickup. Indoor malls and shopping centers may open at 20% of overall mall maximum capacity. All in-person dining in malls and shopping centers are prohibited.
  • Military, defense contractors and federally funded research and development centers are allowed to have individuals leave their residence to provide work and services deemed essential to national security.
  • Childcare facilities may open under the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Childcare Guidance. Childcare groups must have 12 or fewer children per group and children may not jump from one group to another. Groups shall not mix in the facility and only be in separate rooms. Day camps are not allowed to operate between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 a.m.
  • If unable to work remotely, office-based businesses are allowed to open but must limit capacity to 25% of maximum capacity. Housing units and real property may be shown with an appointment scheduled. Appointments may be virtual. If in-person, only two visitors are allowed to view the unit at a time. No viewings are allowed if a tenant is still occupying the unit.
  • Airlines, taxis, ride sharing services, car rental companies and other private transportation services may operate for essential travel.
  • Restaurants and retail food facilities are allowed to remain open for delivery, pickup and drive-thru services. Schools offering food services to students are allowed to operate under a pick-up and carry out basis only.

The Regional Stay At Home Order evaluates five different regions in California: Northern California, the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. The Southern California region had a 20.60% ICU actual capacity as of Dec. 3. Currently, no region has triggered this order to be put in place.

Here is how the above L.A. restrictions would be affected or altered under the statewide Regional Stay At Home Order:

Activities and Businesses that must close:

  • Nail and hair salons, barbershops and other personal care businesses.
  • Bars, breweries, wineries and distilleries.
  • Family entertainment centers and movie theaters.
  • Museums, aquariums and zoos.
  • Amusement parks.
  • Indoor recreational facilities.

Activities and Businesses that will be modified:

  • Campgrounds will be closed for overnight stays.
  • Hotels and lodging will be open only for critical infrastructure support only.

In a briefing on Dec. 3, USC Chief Medical Officer Sarah Van Orman said if students are confused about the different orders, they should follow whatever the most restrictive measures are. When in doubt, the California state website features a tool to search what activities and businesses are permitted by county.