Citing the rising threat of “a devastating tipping point” in the spread of COVID-19, the city of Los Angeles on Wednesday announced a new stay-at-home order, effective immediately. However, the announcement caused considerable confusion when its tone didn’t quite match the sweeping number of exceptions, and within hours of announcing the order the city confirmed that nothing much had changed.
“Our City is now close to a devastating tipping point, beyond which the number of hospitalized patients would start to overwhelm our hospital system, in turn risking needless suffering and death. These unfortunate facts about the spread of COVID-19 in our City mean that we must resume some of the more restrictive measures we instituted in the Spring,” the order, issued by the office of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, says.
The order mandates that all residents of Los Angeles “subject only to the exceptions outlined in this Order” are now “ordered to remain in their homes,” The order expressly forbids “all public and private gatherings of any number of people from more than one household.” In addition, the order prohibits “all travel, including, without limitation, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit.”
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But fittingly for a year in which Los Angeles city and county officials have often failed to communicate clearly, Garcetti’s office later told ABC News that things are pretty much the same as they were before the announcement. “The mayor’s office tells us nothing new is happening. All they did was update the order from earlier this year to mirror the county’s order from days ago. Nothing new in LA tonight,” ABC’s Alex Stone said.
Stone was referring to a “targeted” safer-at-home order enacted by Los Angeles County officials that went into effect on Monday; the primary difference appears to be that the County’s order currently expires on Dec. 20, while the city’s stay-at-home order is, for now, open-ended.
For those wondering, the exceptions to the seemingly strict new order are as follows:
* All healthcare operations, which, yes, means marijuana dispensaries as well as “hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical and scientific research, laboratories, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, veterinary care and pet daycare providers, mental and behavioral health providers and support groups,” among many others.
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* Business selling food, water, medicines, and “household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences.” These including liquor stores, grocery stores, food trucks and carts, pet stores and similar businesses, as well as “certified farmers markets” that “are able to obtain written approval from the Bureau of Street Services.”
* Farming, livestock, horticultural and fishing operations
* “Organizations and businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals — which includes “gang prevention and intervention, domestic violence, and homeless services agencies.”
* Media outlets and music, TV, podcast or film studios that comply with LA county health requirements.
* Automobile-related services including gas stations, repair shops, dealerships and part supply retailers, and similar services related to bicycles.
* “Banks, credit unions, financial institutions and insurance companies, and pawn shops.”
* Home improvement and construction related businesses and retailers, including hardware shops, day labor services.
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* Organizations that “provide services to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation to properties and other essential activities discussed in this subsection.” This includes plumbing, electrical and custodial services, funerary services, movers, construction and home repair and installation services, and property management, among others.
* Packaging, shipping and mail-related businesses and services.
* Educational institutions including university and technical schools.
* Laundry service providers and businesses.
* “Restaurants and retail food facilities” offering “food to customers via delivery service, to be picked up, via drive thru service,” as well as “entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public.” In addition, “cafeterias, commissaries, and restaurants located within hospitals, nursing homes, or other licensed health care facilities may provide dine-in service, as long as Social (Physical) Distancing is practiced.”
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* Retail goods storage facilities.
* Utility companies and other operations that make it possible for essential businesses to operate.
* Shipping and delivery related to essential businesses.
* “Airlines, taxis, ride-sharing services, car rental companies, and other private transportation services providing transportation services necessary for essential activities”
* “Home-based care for disabled persons, seniors, adults, or children.”
* Residential facilities and shelters for homeless residents, disabled persons, seniors, adults, children and animals.
* Certain “office-based businesses” where telecommuting isn’t possible, such as legal or real estate businesses.
* Faith-based gatherings.
* Childcare services.
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* “Hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities” that comply with county health requirements.
* Military and defense contractors.
* Manufacturers of retail goods.
* City parks and trails, which will remain open during normal operating hours.
* Beaches are open for swimming, running, surfing and walking but not for sunbathing or gatherings of any kind.
* Fitness facilities are allowed to maintain outdoor operations only at 50% capacity.
* Public libraries may open at 20% indoor capacity.
* Breweries and wineries may open at 20% capacity for retail, but must be closed to on site food and beverage services.
LA County officials reported 5,987 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, 40 new deaths, and 94% spike in hospitalizations over the last 2 weeks.