a group of palm trees with the sun in the background

I got away to California in October, and it was an incredible breath of fresh air. LA county seemed to be taking covid-19 quite seriously, keeping dining to outdoor only, and with incredibly high mask compliance even walking down the street. Despite the best efforts of many, it appears tough times are upon us, and it’s time to hit pause on any LA trips, at least for another month or so.

Fresh “stay at home” orders and new restrictions are coming into force, which means all but essential travel is discouraged and many places will be closed, or unable to serve you anyway.

a man standing on a beach with palm trees and a sunset

Southern California Covid-19 Orders

California Governor Gavin Newsom has laid out what’s likely to happen within 48 hours, unless a dramatic shift in covid-19 treatment comes about in cities and counties across the state. Already, Southern California and a variety of San Francisco counties have committed to the order, effective December 5th.

If intensive care ICU bed availability drops below 15% in any of the regions as defined by the governor, a “stay at home” order will be placed for the region for a period of at least 3 weeks, which means shutting down non-essential travel, and most businesses along with them. Also, masks will be 100% mandatory outside of home.

Hotels wouldn’t be able to welcome leisure travelers, all on-site dining would be banned and most indoor activities as well. Furthermore, arrivals by air or rail into Los Angeles County will receive a notice stating they’re requested to isolate for 14 days upon arrival, much like New York has done throughout the pandemic.

Here’s the full release with details of what must close, and what may remain open, provided 100% mask wearing and physical distancing is maintained. When it comes to travel, here’s how things you might’ve enjoyed stack up, for at least the next 3 weeks.

Hotels: only open to essential support staff.

Restaurants: Take out and delivery only.

Outdoor recreation: 100% mask wearing required, no food or alcohol sales.

Bars, Wineries, Distilleries: closed until further notice.

Offices: remote work only, except for critical infrastructure.

Retail Shopping: open at 20% capacity, 100% mask required.

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Defining California Regions

Governor Newsom will define regions under these stay at home orders into: Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Los Angeles and San Diego would obviously fall into the sweeping Southern California category.

Virtually all regions have committed to “stay at home” orders already, and Los Angeles and San Diego Counties are expected to go into this lockdown order from Saturday the 5th of December, 2020.

In other words, starting from December 5th, it’s going to be essential movement only in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego for a period of at least three weeks, and anyone visiting would be expected to self isolate for the first two weeks. For most of California, it’s much of the same.

Outdoor exercise and delivery and takeout are still permitted with masks on, but in the simplest terms, that’s pretty much it. Hotels truly aren’t supposed to open to anyone but critical support staff and health workers. In other words: don’t come to California right now.

Travel In A Tangle

Travel is in a hangover state right now, after a long night drinking, aka all of 2020, promises of a better tomorrow are close, but headaches remain. Until vaccines are in wide distribution, localized lockdowns, country closures and the near impossibility of planning far in advance will exist.

With any and all hope, by mid 2021, vaccine distribution will be humming, covid-19 case numbers will plummet and treatment practices will improve to curb the awful death toll this savage virus has cast. In fact, vaccine doses are already flying.

It’s time to put a pause on travel to California for at least 3 weeks, but when the time comes to safely move again, there are few global destinations more “worth it”.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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