A regional stay-at-home order in California set in place late last year to curb the spread of COVID-19 was lifted on Monday as health officials said they see conditions improve statewide.
The order had been in place for the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California, covering the vast majority of the state, according to a press release by the California Department of Public Health. The state also lifted its 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.
Officials cited improving trends in the rate of infections, hospitalizations, and ICU capacity as well as vaccinations as a contributing factor to its decision to lift the order. Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to address the public later on Monday.
“California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been hoping for,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. “Seven weeks ago, our hospitals and front-line medical workers were stretched to their limits, but Californians heard the urgent message to stay home when possible and our surge after the December holidays did not overwhelm the health care system to the degree we had feared.”
The lift means the state will now return to a system of county-by-county restrictions in its four-tiered, color-coded system, which applies the rules of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, a framework for reducing infections of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a disease that causes COVID-19, in the state with revised criteria for loosening and tightening restrictions on activities.
???? #CA lifts the regional stay at home order statewide as four-week ICU capacity projections exceed 15% for the remaining impacted regions. Most counties are returning to the most strict (purple) tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
For more info: https://t.co/hPFNkb1svN pic.twitter.com/Qx3GER53Li
— CA Public Health (@CAPublicHealth) January 25, 2021
State health officials said nearly all counties that exited the regional stay-at-home order were placed under the purple-colored tier. The tiers are classifications that dictate the level of restrictions on businesses and individuals based on virus conditions in each of the state’s 58 counties.
The change will allow businesses such as restaurants to resume outdoor operations in many areas, though local officials could choose to continue stricter rules.
“Services and activities, such as outdoor dining and personal services, may resume immediately with required modifications, subject to any additional restrictions required by local jurisdictions,” officials wrote in the release, advising residents to see the county map to find the status of activities open in each county.
Newsom imposed the stay-at-home order in December as CCP virus cases worsened. Under the system, a multi-county region had to shut down most businesses and order people to stay home if ICU capacity dropped below 15 percent.
Over the weekend, San Francisco Bay Area ICU capacity rose to 23 percent while the San Joaquin Valley increased to 1.3 percent, its first time above zero. The huge Southern California region, the most populous, remains at zero ICU capacity.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.