All public and private gatherings with anyone outside a single household are now banned in Los Angeles County, as most of the country grapples with an unprecedented surge of Covid-19.
The ban will last three weeks, starting Monday and ending December 20.
All 10 million residents are asked to stay home as much as possible and wear face masks when outside — even when exercising at the beach and parks, said the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which issued the order last week.
All playgrounds and cardrooms will be closed, but beaches, trails and parks will remain open to groups who live in the same household.
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 directive comes in addition to a controversial new ban on outdoor dining in Los Angeles County and a statewide curfew prohibiting nonessential activity outside the home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the vast majority of residents.
But the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it will not enforce the 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.”
Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the US, recently reported a record number of new Covid-19 infections and the most deaths in months.
The county reported 395,843 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 7,639 deaths as of Sunday. The county’s 7-day average of test positivity rate is 6.9%.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he is considering “drastic action,” including reinstating a stay-at-home order statewide.
Newsom didn’t mention any proposed specific restrictions but made it clear most of the state will likely be subjected to stronger restrictions.
The governor said he also has to consider the financial consequences a stay-at-home order could have on businesses. He unveiled some plans to help ease that impact, including cash grants of up to $25,000 for industries like restaurants, hospitality, nail salons and bars.