Covid-19 Confusion: What You Need To Know About The Dueling Stay-At-Home Orders From L.A. City, L.A. County And The State Of California

Tom Tapp

After three separate Covid-19 stay-at-home orders in the past week, many Los Angeles residents are understandably confused.

Very briefly, the orders emanate from the State of California, L.A. County and L.A.’s mayor. Counties and cities may be more restrictive than the state mandates, but not less restrictive. For the most part, the California order is more stringent.

The state edict prohibits gatherings of any size of people from more than one household, closes many sector operations including in-person dining at restaurants and personal grooming services, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing. It does allow essential workers to continue mostly as before. Schools will be required to stay in whatever state of opening they are at the tine the order takes effect.

You can read a copy of the state’s restrictions here. It was the last of the three orders issued this week.

On Monday, the Los Angeles County “Temporary Targeted Safer-at-Home” order went into effect. It prohibited gatherings with persons of more than one household. The gatherings prohibition had already been a strong suggestion from county health officials for weeks. The order also closed restaurants for in-person dining. The rest of the order generally set percentage limits on an array of businesses.

On Wednesday night, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti issued his own “Targeted Safer-at-Home” order. While there were national headlines that the mayor had ordered Angelenos into lockdown, Garcetti’s document pretty much copied the county’s “Temporary Targeted Safer at Home Order.”

In fact, on Friday Garcetti said as much admitting, “I know there was confusion. I think one reporter said we were banning walking…which we never did and never will.”

The mayor on Friday confirmed Deadline’s analysis of his order, which was that “the city order copies what the county did.” One addition by Garcetti is that travelers over the age of 16 entering the City of Los Angeles from another state or country must complete and submit online a traveler form upon arrival, acknowledging that they have read and understood the state’s travel advisory.

What remains unclear is why the city even needed an order. The city does not have its own health department. The county does. Garcetti has, throughout the pandemic, declined to issue his own guidance and deferred to the county’s experts.

On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state’s “Regional Stay at Home Order.” It will supersede the city and county orders that have already consumed so much oxygen.

Roughly outlined, the prohibitions of Newsom’s order were in line with the other edicts. One difference was that all non-essential travel would be suspended. That had been more of a strong suggestion in the L.A. city and county plans, though Garcetti is requiring those travelers’ forms.

The greatest differentiator between the state order and the others is organizational. It divides California into five regions: Northern California, Southern California, the San Joaquin Valley, the Bay Area and greater Sacramento.

Those regions will fall under the restrictions of Newsom’s order when their remaining ICU capacity dips below 15%. As of Friday, none of them had met that threshold. Northern California was closest at 18.6% ICU capacity left. (See chart.)

Interestingly, as Angelenos vacillated between confusion and complaint about the swarm of orders, five counties in the Bay Area decided to voluntarily adopt the state restrictions, even though of all the regions theirs has the greatest remaining ICU capacity.

Another county, Yolo County adopted a modified version of Newsom’s restrictions, effective 12:01 a.m. on Sunday.

The California State Parks Department on Friday announced that state campsites in regions that fall under Newsom’s order will be closed. “Day use outdoor areas of park units currently open to the public will remain accessible,” the department statement said, “including trails and beaches.” Interestingly, the state rules do allow ski resorts to operate as long as they do not serve food or beverages.

As for enforcement, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva sent mixed messages this week as the orders were issued.

“I want to stay away from businesses that are trying to comply the best they can,” Villanueva told Fox 11 on Thursday.

“They bent over backwards to modify their entire operation to conform to these current health orders,” he continued, “and then they have the rug yanked out from under them, that’s a disservice. I don’t want to make their lives any more miserable.”

The day before, Villanueva tweeted that the department would be “conducting targeted enforcement on super-spreader events.” It’s unclear exactly what gatherings will qualify, but Villanueva was probably referring to event like the massive house parties in the hills this summer or YouTuber Jake Paul’s bash for hundreds of his mask-less friends in Calabasas last weekend.

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