The state on Thursday announced that it is now tracking hospital capacity by region, and if any region’s available intensive care unit beds fall below 15% of total capacity, it will be subject to a more drastic stay-at-home order.

On Friday night, the state said in a news release that the Southern California region, which includes Long Beach, Los Angeles, Orange County and a dozen other nearby counties, had fallen below that threshold.

In the release sent around 9:30 p.m., the state said Southern California hospitals were down to 13.1%. However, it said that number was for “informational purposes only.”

It’s possible that number could change before the regional stay-at-home order goes into effect. It’s not officially in place until 12:59 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. Even if the ICU capacity is below 15% at that point, the state said it would give regions 24 hours to comply with the order.

That means the absolute soonest the new restrictions could hit would be at 12:59 p.m. Sunday. Once in effect, the order would last at least three weeks.

“We are already working to put in place the Governor’s stay at home orders,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia tweeted late Friday night. “Folks need to take this hospital crisis seriously.”

What’s in the order?

If the order is triggered, all counties in Southern California must shutter dine-in service at restaurants, which has been a point of contention for local restaurants since LA County and Long Beach ordered theirs to close on Nov. 25.

Owners argued patrons could simply drive a short distance across the county line to eat. The state’s stay-at-home order takes that decision out of local authorities’ hands. Counties and cities with their own health departments will be allowed to enact stricter rules than the state, but they wouldn’t be allowed to loosen them.

Discouraging people from simply migrating to nearby areas appears to be the impetus behind the state’s order. The Southern California region is massive, spanning from San Luis Obispo in the north to San Diego and east to the Nevada border. The list of covered counties includes: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and  Ventura.

In addition to limiting eateries to takeout only, all gatherings would be banned except for outdoor worship services or protests. And many businesses would have to close or further limit capacity.

All operations would have to cease at:

  • Indoor and outdoor playgrounds
  • Indoor recreational facilities
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Personal care services like nail salons
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums
  • Movie theaters
  • Wineries
  • Bars, breweries and distilleries
  • Family entertainment centers
  • Cardrooms and satellite wagering
  • Limited services not considered critical infrastructure, which includes things like door-to-door services and sales, pet grooming and dog walking
  • Live audience sports
  • Amusement parks

Critical infrastructure operations may continue, and retail stores and shopping centers could stay open indoors at 20% capacity, but they would have to meter entrances and monitor shoppers to make sure nobody is eating or drinking in stores. “Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems,” the state said.

Hotels may remain open for critical infrastructure support, as could offices where remote work isn’t possible.

Professional sports could continue without live audiences, as could production of films and other entertainment.

Child care and schools serving K-12 students would not be affected by the order. Those open for classroom instruction could remain open.

Outdoor recreational facilities would be allowed to stay open—but without any eating, drinking, alcohol sales or overnight camping.

Editor’s note: This story was updated Friday night after the state released new numbers about ICU capacity.

Melissa Evans is the Chief Executive Officer of the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal. Reach her at [email protected], @melissaevansLBP or 562-512-6354.

Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.