Legal Alerts Dec 04, 2020

California Issues Regional Stay Home Order

New Restrictions for Regions Lacking ICU Availability

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new Regional Stay Home Order, which will take effect within 24 hours after a region has less than 15 percent intensive care unit availability, is similar to the lockdown order issued in March — but contains several notable differences. The new Order from the State Public Health Officer, issued Thursday, presents a change from Newsom’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” which enables a phased reopening on a county-by-county basis, as various health metrics improve in each respective county. With metrics moving in the other direction, the new Regional Stay Home Order instead divides the state into five regions: Northern California, Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, and imposes restrictions collectively on all counties within the region.

Additionally, rather than factoring multiple indicators, the new Stay Home Order restrictions are triggered by a single key metric: the availability of ICU hospital beds in the region. Once the region has less than 15 percent ICU availability, all counties within the region will be required to follow the Regional Stay Home Order within 24 hours. Restrictions will remain in place for at least three weeks, and then will only be lifted when the ICU capacity is greater than or equal to 15 percent. The ICU capacity will be assessed on a weekly basis. As of publication of this Legal Alert, none of the five regions have crossed the 15 percent threshold.

What Changes Under the New Order
The Regional Stay Home Order follows what Newsom dubbed the “emergency brake” on the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, placing nearly all counties in the “purple tier” – the most restrictive reopening tier. Regions that eventually move from the purple tier into the Regional Stay Home Order will see increased restrictions. For individuals, this will mean a return to a restriction on leaving residences except for essential work and errands and a prohibition on all private gatherings with members of other households. The restriction does not prevent outdoor exercise and other activities that do not result in intermingling of households.

For businesses, some sectors that were able to hold limited operations in the purple tier will now be required to close. This includes playgrounds (indoor/outdoor), indoor recreational facilities, personal care services, movie theaters, wineries, bars, breweries, distilleries and amusement parks.

Other types of businesses, including essential retail, will have additional restrictions. Sectors that remain open will be required to have100 percent masking and physical distancing and will not be able to serve food, drinks or alcohol if the product is intended to be consumed on the premises. Indoor retail and shopping centers are permitted to remain open at 20 percent capacity, and the Order encourages special hours for seniors and those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems. Restaurants are permitted to be open for take-out and delivery only. Gathering for worship or political expression is only permitted outdoors.

What Will Not Change Under the New Order?
The Regional Stay Home Order contains three significant caveats. First, the Order indicates that guidance related to schools remains unchanged and in effect. Schools that have already begun in-person instruction may remain open, and other schools may continue to embark on the reopening process.

Of particular interest to cities, the Regional Stay Home Order also continues to allow for worship and political expression (protest) activities. Such activities will only be allowed outdoors, but will remain subject to existing guidance.

Coming Soon
There are numerous incentives and programs to help ease the impact of the closures on businesses. Watch for a BB&K Legal Alert next week that discusses these.

Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts, facts specific to your situation or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information herein.

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