With COVID-19 infections surging across the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday issued what amounts to a soft overnight curfew, prohibiting “nonessential” activities and gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
The “limited Stay At Home Order” applies to San Diego County and others in the restrictive “purple” tier of the state’s coronavirus monitoring system — Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange counties. The order takes effect at 10 p.m. Saturday and remains in force until 5 a.m. Dec. 21.
“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge,” Newsom said in a statement. “We are sounding the alarm. It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”
According to the governor’s office, the order is aimed at reducing opportunities for spread of the virus, nothing that activities conducted overnight “are often nonessential and more likely related to social activities and gatherings that have a higher likelihood of leading to reduced inhibition and reduced likelihood for adherence to safety measures like wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distance.”
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, said California is starting to experience the wave of cases that have affected other parts of the nation.
“We too are seeing this surge grow faster and faster and we must address it immediately,” he said.
Ghaly said the order is not a hard curfew, indicating that people can still go outside to walk their dog at 11 p.m. if that is their normal routine. He said the idea is to cut off activities and gatherings of people that can promote virus spread.
He said there is no definitive cause for the state’s sudden surge in cases.
“There is no single culprit,” Ghaly said. “It’s a combination of factors. It’s certainly the colder weather, more mixing, which comes with more opening. … And of course greater travel. We’ve enjoyed some events over the last many weeks — in my home county of Los Angeles, the Dodgers, the Lakers. We had Halloween. We just exited Veterans Day. We’re looking forward to other future events and activities as we go into the winter.
“We’ve had some things to celebrate, some things to protest, coming together in ways that we don’t usually always do,” Ghaly said. “All of those things create opportunities for the virus to spread, opportunities where when we’ve put our guard down it certainly does spread. And we know that those are factors driving this high transmission.”
Newsom announced the curfew a little after 2 p.m. Thursday, tweeting: “Together–we can flatten the curve again.”
Due to the rise in #COVID19 cases, CA is issuing a limited Stay at Home Order.
Non-essential work and gatherings must stop from 10pm-5am in counties in the purple tier.
This will take effect at 10pm on Saturday and remain for 1 month.
Together–we can flatten the curve again.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) November 19, 2020
On Monday, Newsom said he was pulling an “emergency brake” on economic activity in the state in response to rising case numbers. As part of that announcement, 28 counties were moved back to the restrictive “purple” tier of the monitoring system, leaving a total of 41 of the state’s 58 counties in that tier.
The “purple” tier severely restricts capacity at retail establishments, closes fitness centers and limits restaurants to limited outdoor-only service.
Newsom said daily cases numbers in the state “have doubled just in the last 10 days. This is simply the fastest increase California has seen since the beginning of this pandemic.”
Newsom noted that the biggest increase the state had seen previously was in mid-June, when California had a 39.2% increase in new cases in one week. At the start of November, the state saw a 51.3% increase in a one-week period, he said.
He called it an “increase simply without precedent in California’s pandemic history.”
Updated at 4:11 p.m. Nov. 19, 2020
— City News Service contributed to this report.