Stay-at-home order takes effect in SoCal Sunday as ICU beds fill up

Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) Intensive Care Unit (ICU), prepare a COVID-19 patient for a procedure in the hospital's ICU. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Luke Cunningham

A new “stay-at-home order” for Southern California starts Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. due to the surge of COVID-19 and reduced hospital capacity. 

The increase in cases triggered these tight restrictions on travel and business activities on a populous chunk of California, from San Luis Obispo to San Diego.

If you live in LA, say goodbye to hair and nail salons — that may be the most noticeable disruption. LA County residents have already been living under most of the restrictions now mandated by the state, but the change will be drastic for residents in Orange, Ventura, and Riverside Counties, which have looser rules. The Southern California region for the purposes of the “stay-at-home” order also includes Imperial, Inyo, Mono, and San Bernardino counties.

Playgrounds, zoos, museums, breweries, and  wineries must all close. Restaurants are back to takeout service only, like LA County. Retail businesses are limited to 20% of their customer capacity inside at any given time. Gatherings of any kind are prohibited. 

The regional “stay-at-home” order also restricts “non-essential” travel. State officials acknowledge travel restrictions are hard to enforce but say that hotels and other lodgings will only be allowed to stay open to serve essential workers not leisure travel. 

K-12 schools are not affected by the new rules, and public school campuses that were already allowed to open for at least partial in-person instruction when conditions were better in early fall can stay open. 

Public parks, beaches, and hiking trails are also unaffected.

The SoCal and the San Joaquin Valley regions both got word Saturday afternoon that the order would be implemented because their intensive care unit capacity dropped below 15%. 

Southern California’s ICU capacity was 12.5% as of Saturday, meaning the vast majority of ICU beds — 87 % — are occupied. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that any region that sees ICU capacity dip below 15% would be under the tighter restrictions for at least three weeks. 

On Saturday, just as the news came down that the regional stay-at-home order would be imposed, several dozen people were protesting outside LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s home. 

Outrage at state and local leaders got a boost by a viral video posted to social media by one restaurant owner from Sherman Oaks.  

Angela Marsden had to shutter the physically distanced outdoor patio behind her Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill. She was pretty distraught to find several large TV production tents and tables set up in the parking lot just a few feet from her dining area, doing craft services. 

"Everything I own is being taken away from me and they set up a movie company right next to my outdoor patio,” she says in the video. “And people wonder why I’m protesting, and why I’ve had enough?” 

Marsden says she spent around $80,000 outfitting her now-useless outdoor dining area to meet L.A. County's health requirements.  

“Tell me that this is dangerous but right next to me is a slap in my face that’s safe, this is safe?” she asks pointing at the nearly identical dining situations just feet from one another. 

TV and film production is allowed under the local and state health orders but with strict rules, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and daily on-set testing. 

Restaurants were already closed in all of Los Angeles County except in the City of Pasadena, which operates its own health department, and where restaurant owners defied public health orders and stayed open

Now, that ban will be in place for all of Southern California.