California Announces Its Strictest Stay-at-home Order Since Spring

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California is tightening its pandemic restrictions and urging people to cancel all nonessential travel in the state, as its hospitals struggle to keep up with COVID-19. 

California’s latest stay-at-home order prohibits all private gatherings, tightens capacity limits at retail stores, and requires masking in regions where the availability of ICU beds dips below 15%. ICU capacity is as low as 18.6% in some areas, the latest state data shows. 

California Secretary of Health and Human Services described the order to the Los Angeles Times as the state telling, not asking, Californians to stay home for the holidays. 

The complicated order breaks the state into five regions: Northern California, the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California. It specifies that museums, zoos, aquariums, wineries, bars, and breweries must close for at least three weeks and that religious services can only be held outdoors. Ski slopes and beaches are allowed to remain open. Hotels and other forms of lodging also are allowed to operate, but only for the gray area of essential infrastructure support. 

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The New York Times expects new restrictions to come into place in the coming days. 

California has seen its volume of coronavirus cases spike in recent weeks, On Thursday alone, the state reported almost 22,000 new cases of COVID-19. It has reported nearly 1.3 million coronavirus cases and nearly 20,000 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the latest available state data.  

Several states elsewhere in the U.S. are contending with similar COVID-19 spikes. Delaware, for example, has issued a stay-at-home advisory, while Michigan’s governor closed casinos and suspended high schools and colleges. Cities across the U.S. have adopted a patchwork of other rules aimed at stemming the spread of the virus as well.  

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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