Get The Straits Times app and receive breaking news alerts and more. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now
LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – Nearly all social gatherings of individuals from more than a single household will be banned in Los Angeles county for at least three weeks, starting next Monday (Nov 30) under new restrictions local health officials unveiled on Friday, citing a continued surge in Covid-19 infections.
The public health order specifically exempts religious services and protests under constitutionally protected rights, in an apparent nod to Wednesday’s US Supreme Court decision striking down a New York state order that had restricted the size of religious gatherings.
The Los Angeles county measures, affecting some 20 million people living in and around the nation’s second-largest city, go beyond a curfew imposed last week by California Governor Gavin Newsom barring social gatherings and other non-essential activities across most of the state between 10pm and 5am.
Taken together, they represent the most stringent Covid-19 measures imposed on the Los Angeles area since California’s first-in-the-nation statewide lockdown in March, early in the pandemic. They also are among the most restrictive in effect nationwide.
State and local authorities have instituted, or re-imposed, a wide range of limitations on social and economic activity in hopes of blunting a wave of coronavirus infections raging out of control across the country following a late-summer lull.
Political leaders and health officials have also escalated public appeals to pandemic-weary Americans in recent days, urging them to stay home, avoid gatherings and curtail Christmas shopping as they wait for promised vaccines.
In announcing the latest temporary constraints, LA county health officials said the daily tally of newly documented infections had exceeded 4,500 cases for five straight days, crossing a threshold previously set for additional measures to curb the contagion.
Under the new LA county order, which runs through Dec 20, residents are advised – but not required – to stay home as much as possible and to always wear face coverings when outside their homes and around others.
But any social gatherings of people from more than one household are prohibited, whether in public or private, and whether indoors or outside. The latest order still permits some measure of commercial activity, albeit at reduced levels.
More on this topic Related Story US becomes first nation to cross 10 million Covid-19 cases as third wave of infections surge Related Story Most Covid-19 infected county in US to shut down restaurants, again It lowers the maximum occupancy levels for “essential” retail businesses, including grocery stores, to 35 per cent of capacity, while non-essential retail locations such as indoor shopping malls and personal care services such as nail salons can remain open at 20 per cent of capacity.
Beaches, trails and parks remain open, too, so long as individuals keep their distance from others outside their households and wear a mask. The same applies to golf courses, tennis courts, skate parks and other outdoor recreational venues.
All indoor and outdoor service at bars, restaurants, wineries and breweries remains prohibited under an earlier county order that restricted them to takeout and delivery only.
Health officials around the country have warned that the holiday travel season and onset of colder weather – leading to greater social mixing and people congregating indoors – is fuelling a Covid-19 surge that has sent infections, hospitalisations and deaths to record levels.
Nearly 388,000 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed across Los Angeles county to date, including more than 7,600 deaths, with 10 per cent of all diagnostic tests coming back positive – twice the rate considered concerning by health authorities.
More on this topic Related Story US Covid-19 hospitalisations surge to record of over 59,000 patients: Reuters tally Related Story Americans urged to stay home over holiday as US sees record Covid-19 hospitalisations Related Stories: Related Story 5 new Covid-19 cases in Singapore, including first community case in more than 2 weeks Related Story Hong Kong records 73 Covid-19 cases, govt warns situation ‘worsening rapidly’ Related Story Can I get infected with Covid-19 from touching a contaminated surface? Related Story Picking a reusable mask: Breathability v filtration efficiency Related Story Covid-19 is set to leave its mark on the young around the world Related Story Pfizer ends Covid-19 trial with 95% efficacy, to seek emergency-use authorisation Related Story Who should be first to get access to a Covid-19 vaccine in Singapore? Related Story Japan on ‘maximum alert’ as Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido set new one-day highs Related Story In indoor spaces, coronavirus in the air is a greater threat than on surfaces Related Story How S’pore has differentiated itself amid Covid-19 Sign up for our daily updates here and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.
Get The Straits Times app and receive breaking news alerts and more. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now.