California lifted its regional stay-at-home order for residents on Jan. 25. The order has been in place since Dec. 3.
During the stay-at-home order, the state did not allow any private gatherings, required masks and social distancing at all times and required some non-essential businesses to close. The order originally went into effect when ICU availability fell below 15%. The state lifted the order due to projections that all regions would have more than 15% ICU availability in four weeks, according to covid19.ca.gov.
“We are seeing a flattening of the curve,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a press conference on Jan. 25. “Everything that should be up is up and everything that should be down is down — case rates, positivity rates, hospitalizations (and)ICUs. Testing is starting to go back up, as well as vaccination rates in this state, but we are not out of the woods.”
Since the order was lifted, the state has returned to its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which refers to its four-tiered system for reopening.
The purple tier indicates a widespread infection and has the most restriction, while the red, orange and yellow tiers are progressively less restrictive. As of Jan. 26, only four of California’s 58 counties fall into tiers other than purple.
“I feel great about the recent decision to lift the order,” said Mayanie Kakish, freshman business administration major. “The spread of the virus will happen whether there is an order or not. People will still try to live a somewhat normal life. This action will promote positive mental health.”
Riverside County remains in the purple region. As a result, many non essential indoor businesses remain closed, including indoor dining. However, lifting the stay-at-home order allows outdoor dining and salons to reopen.
“Counties do not actually have much flexibility to adopt different approaches under the tier system,” said Dr. Chase Porter, assistant professor of political science.
“If they are going to comply with state requirements, all they are allowed to do is be more strict than the tier requirements, rather than less strict,” Porter said. “In general, it seems like counties are following the framework.”
Although California has lifted all regional stay-at-home orders, future projections of ICU capacity might result in a return to the restrictions if ICU availability falls below 15% again. However, with continuous administration of COVID-19 vaccines, reopening might continue without another stay-at-home order.
“The potential curveball is vaccination rates,” Porter said. “I do wonder if metrics and rules will start to incorporate vaccination rates. I have not heard anything to indicate that this will happen, but it would not surprise me if it did.
“There are elements of the current tier system framework that make a return to pre-COVID normalcy a mathematical impossibility, so I suspect the framework may see some future modification..”
For Riverside County to advance to the red tier, case numbers must drop below seven in 100,000 and positivity rates must drop below 8%.