Officials in California have tightened restrictions in 10 of the state's counties as of Dec. 2 due to increases in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Among the affected counties are San Francisco, San Mateo, Calaveras, Lake, Mono, Plumas, and Modoc, all of which have been moved to the most restrictive level of California's four-tier color-coded system for tracking COVID-19 and are applying restrictions based on local infection rates. The classification system ranges from the minimal-risk or "yellow" level, denoting low COVID-19 activity and minimal restrictions, to the widespread or "purple" level, which denotes high levels of COVID-19 activity and the tightest restrictions.
In jurisdictions classified at the widespread or "purple" level, residents must remain at home between the hours of 2200-0500 unless they are employed in the field of critical infrastructure maintenance, are responding to an emergency, or are performing other activities in which they do not interact with people from other households. Additionally, certain types of personal care services may operate but must follow proper hygiene and social distancing procedures. Most other establishments, such as family entertainment centers, movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers, places of worship, zoos, and dine-in restaurants, can only open if they are able to operate outdoors. Bars must remain closed. Retail stores, bookstores, shopping malls, and libraries can open at 25-percent capacity. As of Dec. 2, the following 52 of California's 58 counties are at this level:
- Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Plumas, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba
At the substantial or "red" risk level, movie theaters, places of worship, museums, zoos, and indoor services at restaurants may open at 25-percent capacity. Cultural ceremonies are permitted at 25 percent of the venue's capacity. Stores and shopping malls may resume operations at 50-percent capacity. Gyms and fitness centers can open at 10-percent capacity. There are five counties at the substantial level as of Dec. 2: Alpine, Amador, Inyo, Marin, and Mariposa.
At the moderate or "orange" risk level, movie theaters, museums, places of worship, and indoor services at restaurants can open at 50-percent capacity. Gyms, indoor playgrounds, and family entertainment centers can open at 25-percent capacity. Small theme parks may resume limited outdoor operations at 25-percent capacity or 500 people, whichever is less. Outdoor stadiums may host sporting events at 20-percent capacity. Bars can open for outdoor services only. As of Dec. 2, Sierra is the only county at the moderate risk level.
At the minimal or "yellow" risk level, most businesses can operate. Bars, gyms, fitness centers, indoor playgrounds, family entertainment centers, movie theaters, places of worship, and indoor dine-in services at restaurants can open at 50-percent capacity. All theme parks may operate at a 25-percent capacity, and sporting events at stadiums may occur at a 25-percent capacity. As of Dec. 2, there are no counties at the minimal risk level.
Across the state, some businesses, such as concert venues, convention centers, live theaters, and nightclubs, must remain closed. Events such as music festivals remain banned. Residents from up to three different households may socialize outdoors and there is no limit to the number of people allowed per household. Individuals over the age of two must wear facemasks whenever outside the home, except when they are alone or complying with social distancing standards. Persons with medical conditions are exempt.
Additionally, officials have issued a travel advisory recommending that travelers entering California from any other US state or from abroad self-quarantine for 14 days and limit interactions with those within their household. California residents are advised to remain within their regions and avoid nonessential travel to other states or countries. Those traveling for essential reasons are exempt.
Some counties have issued additional guidelines for individuals within their jurisdictions, including Los Angeles County, where authorities have banned gatherings, except for outdoor religious or political events. Los Angeles County has also closed playgrounds, except those within schools or daycare centers, and banned outdoor dining at restaurants.
All businesses must comply with certain requirements, such as enhancing sanitation procedures, closing off areas where people might gather, and observing social distancing standards, among other things.
Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
Heed the directives of the authorities and monitor local media for updates. Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.
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