California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered a three-week COVID-19 lockdown for the state on a regional basis, with stay-at-home orders to be implemented in areas hardest hit by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
California is to be divided into five regions: Northern California, Greater Sacramento, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Newsom said tougher social and economic restrictions will be triggered when intensive care units near maximum capacity at a region’s hospitals.
“The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said. “If we don’t act now, our death rate will continue to climb.”
The latest restrictions will be implemented after 48 hours in any of the five regions where available ICU space falls to 15 percent of capacity or less, Newsom explained, describing the measures as an “emergency brake” to curb the transmission of COVID-19 in the state.
The governor was addressing the state via video feed live from his Sacramento home.
Currently, no regions have been affected by the governor’s latest order. However, recent projections show that in the next few days, all regions except the Bay Area will meet the threshold, Newsom said.
The Bay area is expected to follow by mid- to late-December. Each region is to remain under its stay-at-home order for at least three weeks once they are imposed.
The order will see the closure of bars, wineries, nail salons, hair salons and barbershops, while private gatherings will not be allowed.
Restaurants can only operate for takeout and delivery, while retail stores can remain open at 20 percent capacity.
Schools can remain open if they have received a waiver to reopen, Newsom said.
All non-essential travel would be “suspended,” he said, adding that outdoor activities such as the beach, hiking and skiing are still allowed.
“This is the most challenging moment since the beginning of this pandemic,” the governor said. “If there was ever any time to put aside your doubt, to put aside your skepticism, to put aside your cynicism, to put aside your ideology, to put aside any consideration except this: Lives are in the balance. Lives will be lost unless we do more than we’ve ever done.”
COVID-19 hospitalizations in the nation’s most populous state have climbed 86 percent over two weeks, Newsom said. The state documented a record 18,591 additional cases on Wednesday alone, 12 percent of which are estimated to end up requiring hospital treatment within two weeks.
The latest restrictions will represent the most stringent social-distancing rules anywhere in the United States, and the most far-reaching in California since Newsom imposed his original, first-in-the-nation statewide lockdown in March.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are a few months away from seeing real progress,” Newsom said. “We do not anticipate having to do this once again but we all need to step up and we need to meet this moment head on and do everything we can to stem the tide, bend the curve and do everything we can necessary to get that vaccine into the hands of every Californian in the state.”
Reuters contributed to this report.