New California Curfew Applies to Most Bay Area Counties

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

Pedestrians cross a street in downtown Oakland. A new limited stay-at-home order applies to all California counties in the state's 'purple' tier. Six Bay Area counties are currently in the purple tier, including Alameda. (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Skip to:

Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Department of Public Health officials on Thursday announced a month-long overnight stay-at-home order that will apply to California counties with the state's highest rates of COVID-19 transmission.

Starting Saturday, Nov. 21, the limited stay-at-home order will be in effect between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for counties in the "purple" tier of the state's reopening guidelines, which indicates the most widespread coronavirus risk. The order mandates that nonessential work, movement and gatherings stop during these hours.

The order will remain in effect until 5 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 21. Currently, it will apply to the six Bay Area counties now in the purple tier:

  • Alameda
  • Contra Costa
  • Solano
  • Napa
  • Santa Clara
  • Sonoma

The only Bay Area counties not in the purple tier – Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo – are currently in the red tier, which represents the second-most widespread risk.

On Monday, Newsom announced that a whopping 41 counties – representing 94% of the state's population – would be designated under the purple tier, rollbacks he likened to "pulling the emergency brake" on reopenings amid a rapid uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

"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 critical to stop the surge," Newsom said in a statement. "We are sounding the alarm."

"It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again," Newsom said.

What This Curfew Means

The new curfew is the same as the March stay-at-home order, said CDPH officials, but it applies only during those overnight hours.

While nonessential businesses must close by 10 p.m., restaurants can still offer takeout food, said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly in a press briefing.

People in the purple tier counties under curfew will still be able to go to the grocery store, get medical care, pick up prescriptions and take care of other essential needs. They'll also still be able to walk their dogs, Ghaly confirmed.

Addressing how this order might be enforced, Ghaly stressed that the state would rather rely on residents to do their part — especially when it comes to not gathering between the curfew hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

"We've depended on a partnership with all of you. This is about coming together," Ghaly said.

He also urged California residents not to let their guard down following news of promising vaccine trials. "Even though we have the hope of vaccine and the discussions about what lies ahead on that front, we have to take care of the urgency of the day," he said.

The news of California's curfew comes on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a strong recommendation that people stay home for Thanksgiving. Last week, Newsom — along with the governors of Oregon and Washington — issued travel advisories in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The advisory urged against "nonessential, out-of-state travel" and asked those who do so to self-quarantine for two weeks.


High-Risk Activities to Avoid Right Now

Ghaly had a message for those listening regarding elevated COVID-19 rates in their communities: “The activities you’d normally do are higher risk than they were a month ago.”

The California Department of Public Health recommends avoiding high-risk activities:

  • Where it is difficult to mask the whole time (i.e. eating and drinking)
  • Where you see people who you haven't seen recently (i.e. people outside your household)
  • Where it is difficult to keep your distance (i.e. board games on a carpet or employees in a break room)
  • That are a longer duration
  • That don't allow for plenty of fresh air to circulate

From Nov. 1 to Nov. 7 alone, Ghaly said that daily case numbers of COVID-19 in California had risen 51.3%. This steep increase, said Ghaly, was due to a number of factors: colder weather, “more mixing” between people — especially as more businesses around the state reopened — and people traveling more.

"We know that 12% of today's cases will be hospitalized in two to three weeks," Ghaly said.