Stay-at-home order: Over 33 million Californians under new coronavirus rules as hospital ICU capacity drops

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As California hospitals struggle with an influx of mounting COVID-19 cases, state officials imposed a new stay home order on more than 33 million people.

The new rules took effect just before midnight Sunday for Southern California and a large swath of the Central Valley. The rules were triggered when available capacity in the region's intensive care units fell below 15%.

Five Bay Area counties decided not to wait for the state's planned regional stay-at-home order and are implementing the new restrictions ahead of schedule.

The start date varies slightly based on county. Orders for Contra Costa, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties took effect Sunday, Dec. 6 at 10 p.m. In Alameda County, the stay-at-home order started Monday, Dec. 7 at 12:01 a.m. Marin County is last to join on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at noon.

VIDEO: 'Vast majority' of California under stay-at-home order as ICU capacity reaches critical levels, Newsom says

The stay-at-home order will be in place for at least three weeks and prohibits gatherings of people from different households. Regions will be eligible to exit from the order on Dec. 28 if ICU capacity projections for the following month are above or equal to 15%.

Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide order on Thursday as part of his latest effort to also keep people from gathering with others from outside their households.

The order divides the state into five regions and connects business shutdowns and travel restrictions to hospital ICU capacity. When a region has fewer than 15% of its ICU beds available, new restrictions are imposed.

BAY AREA ICU CAPACITY: How close we are to the 15% threshold and California's new stay-at-home order

The statewide order took effect at 12:59 p.m. Saturday, after which regions had 24 hours to implement the rules, which stay in effect at least three weeks. The rules don't apply to public schools with in-person learning.

ICU capacity in the Bay Area is at 25.7% -- that includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma counties.

"The bottom line is if we don't act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed," Newsom said. "This is the most challenging moment since the beginning of this pandemic."

According to the governor's office, the triggering of the regional stay-home order mandates that the following activities and sectors must close:

  • Indoor and outdoor playgrounds

  • Indoor recreational facilities

  • Hair salons and barbershops

  • Personal care services

  • Museums, zoos, and aquariums

  • Movie theaters

  • Wineries

  • Bars, breweries and distilleries

  • Family entertainment centers

  • Cardrooms and satellite wagering

  • Limited services

  • Live audience sports

  • Amusement parks

Other sectors that will be allowed to stay open when operating remotely is not possible include:

  • Critical Infrastructure

  • Schools that are already open for in-person learning

  • Non-urgent medical and dental care

  • Child care and pre-K


Much of the state is on the brink of the same restrictions. Some counties have opted to impose them even before the mandate kicks in, including in the Bay Area.

Some local law enforcement said they would not enforce the rules. Others say they are educating the public and will issue citations only if necessary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.