All public and private gatherings with people outside a single household are banned in Los Angeles County starting today under a new health order to curb an unprecedented spread of the coronavirus.
The order is in effect for three weeks, until Dec. 20.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials issued the order Friday, urging all of the county’s 10 million residents to stay home as much as possible and to wear face coverings when they are outside, even when exercising at the beach and parks. The directive also orders the closure of all playgrounds and cardrooms. While beaches, trails and parks remain open, only gatherings from a single household are allowed.
The order also reduces the maximum occupancy for essential businesses to 35%, and for non-essential businesses, personal care services, and libraries to 20%. Businesses operating outdoors, including fitness centers, zoos, botanical gardens, and batting cages are reduced to a maximum of 50% capacity. The order exempts outdoor church services and protests, which are constitutionally protected rights, the county said.
The new restrictions come after the nation’s most populous county reported a record number of new Covid-19 infections and the most deaths in months. The directive is in addition to a controversial new ban on outdoor dining in L.A. County, and a statewide curfew prohibiting nonessential activity outside the home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time for the vast majority of residents.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, however, said it will not enforce the county’s new stay-at-home order, instead relying on voluntary compliance.
“Since the first Stay at Home Order was issued in March of this year, we have focused on education and voluntary compliance, with enforcement measures being an extreme last resort,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement to CNN. “We trust in the community and rely on people to assess risk and take precautions as appropriate.”
As of Sunday, Los Angeles County has reported 395,843 confirmed cases of Covid-19 to date and 7,639 deaths. The county 7-day positivity rate average is 6.9%.