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LA County's 'Limited Stay At Home Order' Begins Tonight At 10, As Surge Continues

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Chairs stacked on tables in the closed dining areas of Grand Central Market. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Los Angeles County's new limited Stay-At-Home order goes into effect tonight (Friday) at 10 p.m. Some are calling the new rules a 'curfew,' which health officials say isn't quite the right word, since essential places like grocery stores and pharmacies will still be open, in addition to take-out and delivery.

This coincides with California's order, which goes into effect on Saturday. The new restrictions prevent personal gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., as well as requiring non-essential businesses to close during that time.

Here's what else you need to know about the new restrictions in L.A. County:

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Courtsey L.A. Dept. of Public Health
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Here are rules for purple tier counties in California (which includes L.A.):

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The idea behind the new restrictions is this: We need preventative measures to stop the surge from getting worse, if we want to avoid another full-on stay-at-home order.

The numbers we are seeing now are a reflection of actions Angelenos were taking two weeks ago, county public health director Barbara Ferrer said:

"If we act today, a two weeks from now, we should be able to see a start and slowing the spread," Ferrer said. "If we don't, I fear that we're going to continue to experience, higher case count, more people passing away from COVID-19, and a stressed out healthcare system."

Today L.A. County reported
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4,272 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 35 deaths. The county shattered its own daily record yesterday, with over 5,000 new cases.

Ferrer said the county's positivity rate has also increased "significantly"; it's now at 7.3%.

If L.A. county reaches a five-day average of over 4,500 cases, we could go back to a the kind of Safer-At-Home order we had in March. As of today, we've hit a three-day average that meets this threshold.

If the county averages more than 4,500 cases in a five-day period and hospitalizations reach 1,750 patients, all outdoor dining will temporarily shut down.

Confused? Here are a couple common questions:

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WILL THERE BE ENFORCEMENT?

Short answer: No. Long answer: Just be a good person.

"We get this question all the time," Ferrer said. "We're public health people, and so we really appreciate that the best enforcement is voluntary compliance ... We all have a stake in this. And that's what we rely on. We rely on people having enough information to make the good decisions that really save other people's lives at this point, and potentially their own."

Ferrer did note that the health department will continue to issue citations to businesses that don't comply with restrictions, but there won't be any citations for individuals who don't follow the rules.

"This is not just about each individual person at this point," she said. "This is about a collective responsibility to get ourselves to next year, when we're going to have a vaccine available."

WHAT IF MY FAMILY MEMBER IS COMING FOR THE HOLIDAYS?

They need to quarantine for 14 days. If you're talking about Thanksgiving, it's probably too late for that. The least you can do is have them isolate in a separate room and wear a mask whenever they are inside with anyone else.

If you are having Thanksgiving with someone who has travelled or who lives in a different household, you should be eating outside with social distancing and masks when possible.

OK, CASES ARE RISING BUT ARE DEATHS?

Deaths are not as high, proportionally, as cases, but Ferrer says they are rising.

"Over the last three days, we've reported over 25 deaths each day. And that's unusual for us at this point in time," Ferrer said.

CAN I WALK OUTSIDE AFTER 10?

Yes, it's not really a curfew, in that you can still walk your dog, shop for groceries or go to work if you are an essential worker. Just don't throw a party.

"The intent here is to try to make it possible for us to get back to slowing the spread, by asking people to take personal responsibility for not mixing with others," Ferrer said.

IS THE CASE SURGE BECAUSE OF MORE TESTING?

No. See above on postivity rate.

WHY 10 P.M.? THIS MAKES NO SENSE! I'M UPSET!

The whole idea of cutting off non-essential businesses at 10 p.m., is people who are out after 10 are often socializing with other people who aren't in their household. That kind of inter-household mixing is what these restrictions are meant to target.

Drinking also tends to lower inhibitions, which makes it harder to social distance and wear masks properly.

WHY ARE YOU TARGETING RESTAURANTS AND BARS? ARE THEY UNSAFE?

"Places where people aren't wearing their face coverings are obviously places where there's a higher risk of transmission," Ferrer said. "And unfortunately, at restaurants and bars where people are eating and drinking most of the time, they're not wearing a face covering."

People at restaurants or bars also tend to speak loudly, cheer or sing (if watching, say, an outdoor Dodger's game), without masks on, Ferrer said.

That's why the county is asking restaurants with outdoor dining to limit occupancy to 50%.

Reminder: Just because retaurants are open for outdoor dining doesn't mean you're supposed to be eating with those you don't live with. That increases your risk, and the risk to restaurant staff.

MORE ABOUT THE NEW RESTRICTIONS: