California’s stay-at-home order lifted, returning counties to ‘purple tier’

(Getty Images)

California ended its coronavirus-related stay-at-home order for the entire state Monday based on projected intensive care unit populations over the next four weeks.

The order’s ending will move most of the state back into the purple tier of the four-tiered reopening system, allowing businesses like restaurants and hair salons to reopen outdoors.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials originally implemented the stay-at-home order in December amid a wave of causes caused in part by social gatherings for Thanksgiving.

Regions of the state were placed under the stay-at-home order when their aggregated ICU bed availability fell below 15 percent of the region’s total ICU bed capacity.

While the Bay Area’s ICU availability shot up to 23.4 percent over the weekend, some regions like the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California still have bed availabilities under 2 percent.

“Seven weeks ago, our hospitals and front-line medical workers were stretched to their limits, but Californians heard the urgent message to stay home when possible and our surge after the December holidays did not overwhelm the health care system to the degree we had feared,” state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in a statement. The move comes just days after Ghaly suggested the state had weathered the worst of the pandemic’s winter surge and hospitalizations were on a downswing.

“We are seeing some reductions in transmission,” Ghaly said last week during a briefing on the pandemic.

In addition to the stay-at-home order, the state-enforced curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. expired Monday, allowing non-essential, late-night travel to resume.

Newsom is expected to discuss the state’s decision to end the stay-at-home order during a noon briefing.

“COVID-19 is still here and still deadly, so our work is not over, but it’s important to recognize our collective actions saved lives and we are turning a critical corner,” said California Department of Public Health director and state public health officer Dr. Tomás Aragón.

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