CALIFORNIA — Gov. Gavin Newsom and public health officials issued a curfew order Thursday for purple tier counties, which will require people to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Saturday night.
The order expires after 5 a.m. Dec. 21 and applies to work, movement and gatherings that are not essential. Officials hope to curtail social activities that might cause people to lower their inhibitions, and remove masks or fail to maintain six feet of distance from others.
“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said in a news release. “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”
The order only applies to counties in the purple tier, which is the most restrictive level of the state’s color-coded, four-tiered COVID-19 risk system and indicates widespread risk. Purple tier counties have the highest rate of hospitalizations and positive COVID-19 tests.
People in the same household may leave their home, as long as they are not interacting or gathering with people from another household, according to the order.
The order does not apply to people who are homeless or people who work in jobs considered by the state to be essential.
The news comes days after state officials pulled the “emergency brake” amid a surge in cases of the coronavirus and announced plans to move 40 counties backward on the state’s COVID-19 risk assessment. More than nine in 10 California now live in a purple tier county.
Last week, the state issued a travel advisory and called for anyone arriving in the Golden State after recreational travel to self-quarantine for 14 days. The advisory applies to Californians returning home after traveling outside of their home state and visitors from elsewhere who are arriving in California. Travelers are asked to interact only with their immediate household.
COVID-19 cases in the Golden State increased by about 50 percent during the first week of November, according to the state.
As of Thursday, 1,059,267 Californians had tested positive for COVID-19 and 18,466 deaths were linked to the virus.
Read the full order here.