Holidays of a different hue

With COVID-19 cases spiking across the region, California is preparing for a season under restrictions


 With a recent spike in cases of COVID-19 across the state, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) have implemented stricter guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus — and more may be on the way.

“Reducing movement and mixing of individual Californians is critical to decreasing transmission, hospitalizations and deaths,” said State Public Health Officer Erica Pan in a Nov. 19 press release from the CDPH addressing the importance of slowing the disease’s spread.

The agency implemented a curfew and issued new guidelines for gatherings and travel in response to the rising rate of transmission in the state. The CDPH reported a new record of 18,350 daily cases on Nov. 25, later shattered by another new record of 20,759 daily cases reported on Dec. 2.

The CDPH announced a limited stay-at-home order in an effort to reduce non-essential activities. This order took effect on Nov. 21 and implements a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. for counties currently in the purple tier, including San Joaquin, which returned to this tier on Nov. 17.

During the curfew, activities outside the household must cease unless they are considered essential, according to the press release.

The CDPH argues that activities taking place during these hours are mostly non-essential.

“In particular, activities conducted during 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. are often non-essential and more likely related to social activities and gatherings that have a higher likelihood of leading to reduced inhibition and reduced likelihood to adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures,” said Pan in a Nov. 19 press release from the CDPH.

This curfew will remain in effect for counties in the purple tier until Dec. 21., but there’s a possibility this order may be extended if the rate of infection doesn’t slow.

In a press release from the Governor’s Office of California, Newsom addressed the importance of acting quickly to stop the rapid spread of the virus.

“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 crucial to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” said Newsom. “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”

The CDPH announced on Dec. 4 that California will issue regional stay-at-home orders based on ICU capacity. For these orders the state is separated into five regions: Northern California, Greater Sacramento, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

The regional stay-at-home orders take effect when any of these regions drop below 15 percent in their ICU capacity. According to the CDPH, projections show that California is expected to reach its ICU capacity in mid-December.

For traveling, the state of California released information on the CDPH website on Nov. 13 advising residents to avoid non-essential travel to other states or countries.

People entering California from other states or countries, including returning California residents are recommended to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival and limit their interactions with their immediate household, according to the travel advisory. The recommendation comes as the U.S. surpassed 100,000 hospitalizations and recorded 2,400 daily deaths on Dec. 2, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project and Johns Hopkins University. 

According to agency guidelines, gathering indoors is strongly discouraged for counties in the yellow, orange and red tiers. 

Gatherings are only permitted outdoors for counties in the purple tier.


 The California Department of Public Health recommends the following for social distancing for the holiday season:

  • Don’t attend gatherings if feeling sick
  • Limit gatherings to a maximum of two hours
  • People in high-risk group discouraged from attending gatherings
  • Singing, chanting and shouting discouraged at gatherings 

For more information on the new guidelines from the CDPH, visit the webpage at