After a sharp rise in hospitalizations, new restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 went into effect over the weekend in Long Beach and all of Southern California.
For how long?
The state-mandated restrictions will be in place for at least the next three weeks, starting at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, through Dec. 28.
The restrictions are tied to capacity in intensive care units in the Southern California region, which covers all nearby counties including the coastline from San Luis Obispo to San Diego and east to the Nevada and Arizona borders.
If capacity in local intensive care units improves to 15% or above as of Dec. 28, Long Beach and Los Angeles County will go back to being assessed alone—apart from the other counties. Under the previous system, the state each week was looking at testing positivity rates and cases per 100,000 residents to determine what businesses could open, whether schools can operate, whether people are allowed to gather and which recreational activities are allowed.
Long Beach, which was still lumped in with LA County under the state’s old system, had never been able to escape the most restrictive tier, or purple, since the state began using that color-coded system.
What’s closed under the stay-at-home order now?
Under the new orders mandated by Gov. Gavin Newsom and implemented by the city’s health department, the following businesses and activities must now close in Long Beach and the rest of Southern California:
- Indoor and outdoor playgrounds
- Indoor recreational facilities
- Hair salons and barbershops
- Personal care services like nail salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors and massage therapy that’s not related to health care
- Museums, zoos and aquariums
- Movie theaters
- Restaurants (except for takeout and delivery)
- 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, and house cleaning
- Live audience attendance at sporting events
- Amusement parks
- All public and private pools, hot tubs and saunas except for those at a single-family residence and accessible to only one household
Nearby counties, including Orange County, must also now close all dine-in service at restaurants (although patrons are allowed to take out food or have it delivered), which Long Beach and Los Angeles County had already closed on Nov. 25.
Some businesses, such as movie theaters and family entertainment centers, were already closed in Long Beach, but must remain so under the state orders.
What’s still open?
- Critical infrastructure operations, which includes workers supplying grocery stores or transportation.
- Retail stores and shopping centers are open indoors and outdoors at 20% capacity, but they would have to meter entrances and monitor shoppers to make sure nobody is eating or drinking in stores. The state is also recommending they institute special hours for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
- Hotels and private short-term rentals will remain open for critical infrastructure support, as well as offices where remote work isn’t possible. Tourism or pleasure travel is banned, however.
- Professional sports will continue without live audiences, as well as production of films and other entertainment.
- Child care and schools serving K-12 students will not be affected by the order. Those open for classroom instruction will remain open. Schools are also allowed to offer in-person services to high-needs and special-education students, according to Long Beach.
- Outdoor recreational facilities—like beaches, piers, parks and bike paths—will be allowed to remain open but without any eating, drinking, alcohol sales or overnight camping.
- Gyms and fitness centers may continue to operate outdoors.
- Pools can remain open for regulated lap-swimming and drowning-prevention classes.
- Car parades are allowed but “are strongly discouraged” because the point of the order is to keep people home as much as possible, according to the city of Long Beach.
- Religious and cultural services are still permitted, so long as they’re outdoors and physically distanced. However, the health orders ban any singing, chanting or serving of food or beverages. There’s no limit on the size of outdoor services, but the city is strongly encouraging live-streaming them whenever possible to discourage in-person attendance.
- Political rallies and protests are allowed outdoors as long as they follow masking and physical distancing rules.
- Limited services that are considered critical infrastructure can stay open. That includes things like gas stations, laundromats, auto repair shops, car sales, bike shops, maintenance work, landscaping and private security.
You can read the city of Long Beach’s full order here.
What happens if you break the order?
Disobeying the health orders can be a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. However, Long Beach has repeatedly emphasized that criminal enforcement is a last resort.
Typically, the city has issued warnings and notices to businesses that refuse to close before starting to issue fines. The city says it may also shut off water to businesses that don’t comply.
Long Beach, like Los Angeles County, is seeing a record-breaking increase in the number of new cases and hospitalizations.
For instance, Long Beach reported 525 new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 5, “the highest number reported in a single day since the pandemic began,” the city said in a statement.
The number of people with COVID-19 in hospitals around Long Beach also hit its highest point recently, notching 163 on Friday. That’s a 462% jump since Nov. 1, according to the health department.
And on Sunday, LA County reported it had confirmed more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day, the first time it’s ever hit that mark.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Dec. 6 at 8:18 a.m. and updated on Dec. 7 with more information from the city of Long Beach’s health order.