Gov. Newsom announces regional stay-at-home orders expected to cover the entire state over Christmas

Gov. Newsom was expected to speak publicly about his plans for a new shutdown order at noon west coast time. It’s currently 12:30 as I write this and that press conference still hasn’t started. But Politico reports that California’s HHS Secretary briefed state lawmakers on the new plan this morning:

California regions will face stay-at-home orders when their hospital capacity shrinks to an alarmingly low level under a new plan Gov. Gavin Newsom’s health chief described to state lawmakers Thursday morning.

In a region where rising cases threaten to overwhelm limited intensive care unit capacity, residents will be directed to remain in their homes unless they are conducting essential activities…

Newsom will divide the state into five geographic regions and lockdowns would last for three weeks minimum, based on the briefing. Residents would be unable to gather, while playgrounds, salons and restaurant dining would have to close. Food takeout would still be allowed, while hotels could only open for critical infrastructure support.

Okay, Gov. Newsom’s briefing has now started and here’s what he’s rolling out. As noted above, regions of the state where ICU capacity is down to 15% will have a 3-week stay-at-home order put in place automatically. The state will be broken into 5 regions: North, South (including LA and San Diego), the Central Valley, the Sacramento Area and the Bay Area.

Newsom predicts that within a week, possibly in the next two days, four of those regions will hit the 15% threshold. The exception is the Bay Area which he predicts will have up to an additional week before it hits the same threshold.

As for what the stay-at-home order means, bars, hair salons, personal services will all be closed while schools will remain open. Retail can remain open but at 20% capacity and restaurants can do carry-out and delivery but no dine-in. Newsom expressed his sympathy for restaurant owners saying as someone who owned a restaurant he knows how difficult this is going to be for them.

Newsom also announced a statewide restriction on non-essential travel. He didn’t discuss that part in detail so it’s not clear if it’s a recommendation or if it’s going to result in any concrete restrictions.

Newsom said during this briefing that the high numbers of new cases the state is seeing do not yet include cases prompted by Thanksgiving gatherings. In other words, he expects things to continue to get worse over the next week. So very soon most of the state is going to be back to a stay-at-home order and all of the state will be in it by the middle of the month. Because these orders last for three weeks minimum, that means the entire state will be locked down over the Christmas break and into New Year’s Day.

At the end of the briefing, Newsom said 327,000 doses of vaccine should be in California by the middle of the month. That’s a drop in the bucket obviously since each person gets 2 doses. Healthcare workers and the elderly will be prioritized but the exact details are still being worked out.

Here’s the briefing. You’ll have to scroll forward a bit to get to it: