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California Christmas Lockdowns: What Travelers Need To Know

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California may not be the best choice for a Christmas vacation this year.

Millions of people in California will be spending the holidays under the nation’s strictest lockdown as cases of Covid-19 set new records. The move to enter lockdown comes after Los Angeles County passed the 10,000 daily cases milestone on Sunday, with 10,528 cases reported. Here’s what the lockdown entails.

man walking dog wear mask san francisco

Why The Lockdown?

California’s latest lockdown comes in the form of a Regional Stay Home Order. The Regional Stay Home Order is an order from the California Department of Public Health that comes into effect should a region’s ICU bed capacity fall below 15%.

Areas Travelers Should Avoid

Currently, the areas that are affected are San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, which have 6.6% and 10.3% of ICU beds available in their regions respectively. Greater Sacramento is close to the threshold, with only 18.2% of beds available, whilst the Bay Area and Northern California have 24.1% and 26.5% of ICU beds available.

la stay home save lives covid

San Joaquin Valley and Southern California comprise more than half of the state’s population, and so the order will ensure that the majority of Californians will be better protected from the virus, and is designed to halt its rapid spreading surge. Despite not having a bed capacity of below 15%, several Bay Area jurisdictions have imposed stay-at-home orders anyway to keep people protected and ease the strain on the hospitals.

california busy road sunny

Changes and Restrictions Travelers Can Expect

The Regional Stay Home Order will have a severe impact on the daily lives of people living and traveling to those areas. The following facilities must remain closed throughout the durations of the order:

  • Indoor and Outdoor Playgrounds
  • Indoor Recreational Facilities
  • Hair Salons and Barbershops
  • Personal Care Services
  • Museums, Zoos, and Aquariums
  • Movie Theaters
  • Wineries
  • Bars, Breweries and Distilleries
  • Family Entertainment Centers
  • Cardrooms and Satellite Wagering
  • Limited Services
  • Live Audience Sports
  • Amusement Parks

There are further restrictions in place for other sectors. As well as compulsory mask wearing and distancing, these restrictions include:

  • Outdoor Recreational Facilities: Allow outdoor operation only without any food, drink or alcohol sales. Additionally, overnight stays at campgrounds will not be permitted.
  • Retail: Allow indoor operation at 20 percent capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
  • Shopping Centers: Allow indoor operation at 20 percent capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
  • Hotels and Lodging: Allow to open for critical infrastructure support only.
  • Restaurants: Allow only for take-out or pick-up.
  • Offices: Allow remote only except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible.
  • Places of Worship: Allow outdoor services only.
  • Entertainment Production including Professional Sports: Allow operation without live audiences. Additionally, testing protocol and “bubbles” are highly encouraged.
California quarantine rules

Those affected are encouraged to maintain physical and mental health by going on socially distanced walks or trips to the park, and to keep in contact with loved ones virtually.

busy california beaches coronavirus

When Are Restrictions Expected To Be Lifted?

Once entered, all Regional Stay Home Orders must carry on for a minimum duration of three weeks. Following this period, the order will end if the region’s ICU capacity projected out four weeks is equal to or above 15%. Those whose projections show the bed capacity at below 15% will remain under the order until it is above 15%. They will be assessed on a weekly basis.

Traveler grabs her luggage wearing a mask in the international terminal of the airport

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


Monday 7th of December 2020

If you're a Californian and you obey this tyrannical order, you're part of the problem.