Coronavirus in Los Angeles: new stay-at-home restrictions and dates
The California county becomes the latest to impose new covid-19 rules to address the rise in case numbers after a busy Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Health officials in Los Angeles County have announced the introduction of a temporary stay-at-home order to help combat the rising covid-19 case numbers in America’s most populous county. The restrictions will be imposed from Monday 30 November and will remain in place for at least three weeks, until Sunday 20 December.
In a statement released on Friday the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said: "Residents are advised to stay home as much as possible and always wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when they are outside their household and around others.”
The new rules will be applied on top of existing restrictions and will prohibit any public or private gathering of individuals from different households. However as per a Supreme Court ruling from earlier this week, religious services and protests will be exempt from the rules.
Shops and some public spaces will be allowed to remain open for now but at a reduced capacity. Essential retailers will be restricted to 35% of their usual capacity, while the non-essential will be capped at 20%. Outdoor fitness centres and museums will be allowed half of their usual capacity but gatherings at the county’s many beaches are banned entirely.
Why is Los Angeles County imposing these tighter coronavirus restrictions now?
With a population of over 10 million Los Angeles is the most populous county in the US and health officials had set strict thresholds on case numbers to decide their response. On Friday the county’s five-day average of new cases hit 4,751, triggering the introduction of tougher measures.
The stay-at home order comes just days after a ban on outdoor dining was imposed on Wednesday after estimates found that the county’s R-rate (the average number of people that each covid-19 patient passes the virus to) had risen to 1.27, the highest since March.
The rise comes at a time when annual events have encouraged more people to go out and to socialise with friends and family. Thanksgiving Day on Thursday saw over 5,000 new cases reported, one of the county’s highest single-day totals to date. That was followed by Black Friday which, against official advice, saw residents flock to shopping malls in search of pre-Christmas bargains.
Supreme Court ruling allows places of worship to remain open
One category that will be exempt from the new stay-at-home order is places of worship after the Supreme Court prevented New York from applying attendance limits to religious gatherings. Earlier this year the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of such restrictions in California and Nevada but has now reversed that decision.
In that time, liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away and her spot was taken by Amy Coney Barrett. The introduction of Justice Barrett, a devout Catholic, was enough to tip the balance in the Court and it ruled that limits on places of worship would compromise religious freedom.