In the last two weeks there have been several different COVID-19 related regulations set in Los Angeles – from a city level, a county level and a state level. While many of the orders have similar implications in Los Angeles, it can be a lot for Angelenos to digest.

In November, L.A. County saw COVID-19 positive case rates and hospitalizations more than double since the lows in July. Because of this, the L.A. County Health Officer has modified its health orders that have affected  both citizens and businesses.

While Public Health has been monitoring businesses for compliance, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has continually said that he and his deputies would not be enforcing any of the orders set by California, nor Los Angeles County.

“Our posture remains that of voluntary compliance and education,” Villanueva said in a social media Instagram livestream. “We need that voluntary compliance. If we’re not getting it and we’re overwhelmed, we may have to shift some gears down the road and I don’t want to get to that point.”

Both the state of California and L.A. County set orders this week and while there are several restrictions that have been implemented, there are also a lot of activities that can still be done, as noted at the bottom of the article.

Below is an explanation of the most recent orders and how they directly affect Los Angeles:


ICU-Related Order

*UPDATE: The state mandate was triggered in Southern California after reaching 85% of max capacity, Saturday, December 5.

On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a stay-at-home order related to Intensive Care Unit capacity in hospitals. The five regions where this would apply are Southern California, Northern California, the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley.  The order applies to regions where the ICU capacity falls below 15 percent of remaining capacity. As of this writing, the ICU threshold has not applied to Southern California, yet.

Should Southern California reach that 15 percent mark, non-essential businesses such as bars, wineries, hair salons, barbershops and personal services must temporarily close for at least three weeks.

The order also restricts non-essential travel in the region, although travel restrictions already apply to residents in L.A. County.

State Curfew Order

On top of the most recent order is the state order that went out a week before Thanksgiving, on November 19. That order set what we know now as the “curfew” where all non-essential businesses within a county that is in the “Purple Tier” must stop their operations from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Los Angeles is currently in the “Purple Tier” and businesses must abide by the curfew until at least December 19.

Orders given out by cities or counties can be more restrictive, but cannot be less restrictive than any of the state orders above.


*UPDATE: The state mandate was triggered in Southern California after reaching 85% of max capacity, Saturday, December 5.

*Note: L.A. County Public Health orders and statistics do not apply to Pasadena or Long Beach as they have independent city Public Health departments.


Before the state curfew was implemented, L.A. County announced a similar order that had non-essential businesses such as restaurants and bars close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Since then, the county has shifted to the state order of reopening those businesses at 5 a.m. While the county curfew did not have an end date, the order can be further modified by L.A. Public Health, depending on the state of the county’s transmission numbers. At the very least, the state’s curfew order will still apply until December 19.

Outdoor Dining Ban

On November 30, an L.A. County-wide outdoor dining ban was implemented, despite contention from within the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

The outdoor dining ban was set for three weeks, from November 25 to December 16, and has forced hospitality businesses to operate through takeout, delivery or drive-thru only.

Additional Stay-At-Home Restrictions

The latest countywide order went into effect November 30 and expires December 20.

The order prohibits all public and private gatherings with people outside of their own household. The order excludes church services and protests, which Public Health notes are both protected by the constitution.

Under the order regulations, essential retail locations will have to operate at 35 percent of its maximum capacity, while non-essential retail’s capacity will be capped at 20 percent. Personal care services and libraries will also be asked to operate at 20 percent capacity.

Outdoor fitness centers, museums, galleries, zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens will have to operate at 50 percent capacity, as well as recreational activities such as mini golfing, batting cages and go-kart racing.

Cardrooms and non-school playgrounds are the only non-essential sectors that will be completely closed.

Beaches, trails and parks will remain open, but occupants must remain with those within their own household.


*UPDATE: The state mandate was triggered in Southern California after reaching 85% of max capacity, Saturday, December 5.

On December 2, Mayor Eric Garcetti urged the city of Los Angeles to stay home and not mix with people of other households. While multiple local and national headlines gave the perception that Garcetti imposed an order, he simply reiterated the L.A. County Public Health-imposed order.

“My message couldn’t be simpler,” Garcetti said. “It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to close down everything and if it isn’t essential, don’t do it.”

Garcetti also noted that at the current rate, the city could run out of ICU beds by the end of December.


*UPDATE: Some of the previously allowed activities have been restricted after the state mandate was triggered in Southern California on Saturday, December 5.

While all of the orders have been restrictive and prohibit gathering with others, there are several sectors that are still open within the guidelines social distancing, wearing a face covering and not being with people from other households.

  • As mentioned in the county order, capacity percentages have been reduced in these sectors, one can still go to churches, fitness centers, outdoor museums, and galleries, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, mini golfing, batting cages and go-kart racing. Beaches, trails and parks will remain open, as well.
  • While personal care services were a point of contention early on in the pandemic, hair salons, nail salons, barber shops, skin care services, tattoo parlors and piercing shops all remain open under the current county order, with capacity restrictions.
  • Essential activities such as picking up food and supplies from stores are still permitted, as they have been since the start of the pandemic.
  • Travel for leisure was restricted under the county order, but “essential” travel for business was not.
  • Music, film and television production may still continue, as well as professional sporting events without audiences.
  • RV Parks and campgrounds remain open, as well as cabin rental units.
  • While both public and private schools will still conduct distance learning, Individualized Education Programs, English learner assistance programs and other “specialized school services” may be conducted in small batches.
  • As has been consistent for the latter half of the pandemic, drive-in movies and events may remain open, so long as they follow the curfew guidelines.
  • Public libraries may also stay open at 20 percent capacity, or choose to operate with curbside pickup.


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