California to lift virus stay-at-home orders statewide

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom will lift regional stay-at-home orders on Monday and announce the state is returning to a system of county-by-county restrictions intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus, two administration officials with knowledge said.

The decision comes with improving trends in the rate of infections, hospitalizations and intensive care unit capacity as well as vaccinations. The order had been in place in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. The change will allow businesses such as restaurants to resume outdoor operations in many areas.

During the weekend, San Francisco Bay Area ICU capacity surged to 23% while the San Joaquin Valley increased to 1.3%, its first time above zero. The huge Southern California region, the most populous, remains at zero ICU capacity.

The change is based on projections, but the state has not disclosed the data behind the forecasts.

Early last year, the state developed a system of color-coded tiers that dictated the level of restrictions on businesses and individuals based on virus conditions in each of California’s 58 counties.

Then, as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations exploded, Newsom put in place a new system that grouped counties into five regions: Southern California, San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area, Greater Sacramento and Northern California. Stay-at-home orders took effect if a region’s ICU capacity fell below 15%.