Citing the fact that ICU capacity is expected to drop below 15 percent in most regions of the state, California Governor Gavin Newsom said that he was once again pulling the "emergency brake" this week and he's instituting a three-week stay-at-home order.
The order, Newsom said, should take effect within days for most of Southern, Central, and Northern California, and he said the Bay Area may have "a few extra days" or a week before reaching the 15-percent threshold that the state is using to trigger the order. Immediately affected by the order will be all bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and personal services businesses that are currently open for indoor or outdoor service. All will need to shut down for at least three weeks, though restaurants will be permitted to continue doing takeout and delivery — and retail businesses of all sizes can stay open at 20-percent capacity, with Newsom acknowledging that the March orders had the unintended consequence of giving big-box retailers an advantage by staying open.
Schools with waivers to be open currently will be permitted to remain open.
A lifting of the order will only come once a county's ICU capacity trends upward and climbs above 15% for a period of time — though the specifics here still seem unclear.
Newsom said that California had successfully avoided a first wave in the spring, unlike parts of the East Coast and elsewhere, and he said, "Let's take that same spirit... and meet this moment as well."
In his virtual press conference, the governor cited the fact that hospitalizations are up 86% statewide over the last 14 days, and ICU admissions are up 67%.
He characterized the new order as a "temporary moment, not a permanent state," adding "there is light at the end of the tunnel," and saying, "We do not anticipate having to do this once again."
"Give us the time necessary, by bending to curve, to get that vaccine into the hands of all Californians across the state," Newsom said.
The order will have broad impacts to the state economy, but particularly to hospitality and service businesses that have already been struggling through most of this year, and previous public health orders.
As of this week, 51 out of 58 counties in California were in the most restrictive "Purple" tier for reopening businesses, and all but a few rural counties appear likely to be impacted by this three-week order.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly also spoke at the press conference, and he said the state was looking toward Europe, where restrictive measures like this are able to bring case numbers down by 30% or more.
"This isn't about sector-by-sector restrictions," Ghaly said, adding that this was about "limiting movement" in general to reduce the spread and save lives.
Newsom, who opened PlumpJack Wines and the subsequent PlumpJack Cafe in Cow Hollow in the 1990s, said, "As a restaurateur myself... I deeply understand the stress that restaurant owners are under and I empathize with the struggles."
He said vaguely that the state would be further waiving fees for hospitality and service-industry businesses, and said he was hopeful that Congress would come through with a second stimulus bill as well, to help these businesses.
Newsom added that Californians should do what they can this month, despite staying at home, to get outside and do what's necessary for their physical and mental health.
"We encourage you to walk your dog, go for a run with a partner from your household... take a bike ride, go fishing... we encourage those activities," he said.
Subsequent clarifications and local specifics for SF are likely to arrive shortly from Mayor London Breed.