Los Angeles County is tightening its COVID-19 restrictions and urging residents to stay at home "as much as possible" as cases continue to rise in the region.
On Friday, health officials issued a temporary stay-at-home order which will take effect on Monday and be in place for at least three weeks through Dec. 20.
The order will allow essential and emergency workers to leave their homes and prohibits all public and private gatherings except for church services and protests, according to the press release.
Health officials said COVID-19 cases remain at "alarming levels" and as of Friday, the county has confirmed 24 deaths and 4,544 COVID-19 cases, with a five-day average of 4,751 new cases.
"Residents are advised to stay home as much as possible and always wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when they are outside their household and around others," the release stated.
Under the new legislation, businesses will have new occupancy limits, allowing all essential retail to operate at 35 percent, non-essential retail at 20 percent and businesses operating outdoors like fitness centers, museums, zoos, aquariums, gardens, mini-golf, batting cages and go-kart racing at 50 percent.
Restaurants will remain open for pick-up, delivery and take-out only — a restriction that has not been in place in Los Angeles since May.
Beaches, trails, and parks will remain open but gatherings with other households at these sites are prohibited. Playgrounds and cardrooms will close.
Schools and day camps are allowed to stay open so long as they adhere to re-opening protocols.
On Friday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti urged residents to stay home, writing "we have to act now to slow the spread."
"Two months ago, it was projected that one in every 880 L.A. County residents were infected with COVID-19. Now, it’s estimated it's one in every 145," he added.
L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl told CBS Los Angeles that officials hope the new order will help keep hospitals from getting overrun.
"Look at your healthcare workers. They’re exhausted, many of them have tested positive, which means they have to stay home," Kuehl said. "We’re running out of ICU beds, the hospitals — they’re not full, but if you want elective surgery, you won’t get it."
The new restrictions come two days after county officials suspended outdoor dining for at least three weeks.
“The persistent high number of cases requires additional safety measures that limit mixing in settings where people are not wearing masks,” Barbara Ferrer, the L.A. County Public Health Director, said in a statement.
As of Saturday, more than 13.1 million people have contracted the coronavirus and at least 264,862 people have died, according to data from The New York Times.
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