Politico

Newsom to lift stay-at-home orders across California


SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to lift stay-at-home orders statewide Monday, allowing restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining and salons to resume appointments indoors, according to two sources close to the governor and a restaurant industry email.

The change will enable those sectors to reopen in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley and Southern California for the first time since early December. Restaurateurs have been particularly vocal about their frustration with the regional dining ban after purchasing heat lamps and other equipment to get through the winter months.

While Newsom is planning to give the green light to restaurants and salons statewide, county health officials could still try to impose their own restrictions. The governor has allowed local leaders to impose stricter rules than the state does, and some counties may attempt to keep those restrictions in place.

The state shift comes as California has seen a steady decrease in new infections over the past week, as well as a reduction in hospitalizations and intensive care unit use. Newsom earlier this month lifted the stay-at-home order in the greater Sacramento region after projecting that it would have at least 15 percent ICU capacity within four weeks.

All but four of California’s 58 counties are in the state’s most restrictive purple tier status and are expected to remain there for weeks, albeit without the same restrictions that come with stay-at-home orders. Most non-retail indoor activities will remain banned.

The governor has faced litigation over the stay-at-home restrictions on dining. Restaurateurs have argued that outdoor dining does not lead to an increase in coronavirus cases, and state health chief Mark Ghaly indicated in December that the ban was intended mostly to deter residents from venturing outside their homes.

“Late this evening, senior officials in the Newsom administration informed us that the Governor will announce tomorrow that the stay-at-home order will be lifted in all regions of the state,” the California Restaurant Association told members in an email obtained by POLITICO.

The state has not made public the exact formula to determine its ICU projections, and the Sacramento region still remains below the 15 percent capacity threshold. The governor is using the same four-week projection model to justify lifting the orders on the remaining three regions, according to sources with knowledge of Newsom’s plans.

The California Department of Public Health in early December divided the state into five regions, and the Bay Area, Central Valley and Southern California have remained under stay-at-home orders since they began.

While the average daily case rate has fallen, it remains high. The 14-day-rolling average is still 31,299 cases per day, more than three times what it was during the summer surge. But the state is also testing more than at any point of the pandemic.

The state’s seven-day positivity rate has fallen to 8.1 percent, the lowest it has been in weeks.

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