By Victoria Maneske
On Jan. 25, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he was lifting the regional stay-at-home order immediately, with plans to return to the color-coded reopening system for California counties.
With the stay-at-home order, personal care services and movie theaters were closed, and restaurants could only be open with takeout and delivery. With this new change, many businesses can reopen again, such as gyms, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors and more. Outdoor dining is now allowed again, and some business can even operate indoors, with certain restrictions.
Most counties are still in the purple tier, which is the widespread and strictest tier. According to CNN, “Schools in the purple tier must offer remote learning only — but can reopen for in-person instruction after a county has been in the red tier for at least two weeks.”
The stay-at-home order was originally put in place when the regional intensive care unit capacity fell below 15%. Newsom made his decision to lift the order from predictions made over the next four-week period, based on current projections. These regional ICU projections are based on capacity, community transmission, regional case rates and proportion of cases admitted to the ICU.
Current statewide projections have shown that hospitalizations went down by 19.8% and ICU admissions have reduced by 9.4%, all within 14 days from Jan. 11 to Jan. 24. During this same timeframe, the positivity rate has decreased from 13.6% to 9.4%.
Based on these projections, Newsom showed that California statewide ICU capacity is anticipated to be at 30.3% by Feb. 21, four weeks from his announcement. Southern California ICU capacity is predicted to be at 33.3% by that time.
“The goal of this announcement is to socialize our projections as well as illuminate and further advance an understanding, a deeper understanding of what today means and what it doesn’t mean. And it’s in that respect I want to remind folks we’re not out of the woods. We’re seeing a flattening of the curve,” Newsom said.
CI students have varying perspectives on this matter. Michael Ortiz, a senior English major, spoke to his own experience working throughout the pandemic. “I’ve worked at a sandwich shop throughout COVID, so my job has changed multiple times with Newsom’s orders; shutting down inside, and then outdoor dining, means all of our responsibilities change. My restaurant has to change almost everything about the way it operates,” Ortiz said. “I’ve always understood and supported the indoor dining being shut down, but I believe it’s been safe to have outdoor dining for a while now. I think the intensity of his mandate has been a little bit too strong personally, especially because I personally know of small businesses who have suffered while corporations go unpunished. In general, though, I think lifting the heavy mandate is slightly overdue, so I support it.”
Another student, Sabrina Shenker, a second-year transfer English major, also gave her opinion. “On the one hand, I welcome the chance to meet with a couple of close friends one-on-one, outdoors, masked and distant, as the regional stay-at-home order prohibited mingling with anyone outside the household. The fact that the order was lifted does make me a bit nervous, though,” Shenker said. “The vaccine rollout and information campaign are not where they need to be. It’s almost a relief that Ventura County is still in the purple tier. Even though it means that the virus is circulating within the community, I’m glad that some of the riskiest activities, like indoor dining, are banned. I only wish that they continued to limit store capacity the way they did under the stay-at-home order.”
So far, some businesses will have more opportunities to begin their process of reopening and having a chance to resume back to their normal operations, even with some limitations and restrictions.
“I will still be safe and heed the precautions, distancing and wearing my mask. But I will be enjoying going outside and appreciating the world again,” Ortiz said.
For more information on the color-coded tier system and restrictions, you can visit here: https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/, and for California updates on COVID-19 you can visit here: https://covid19.ca.gov/.