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California Lifts Stay-Home Order, Allowing Travel in the State to Resume

By Michelle Baran

Jan 26, 2021

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With the order lifted, wineries can open for outdoor service.

Photo by Shutterstock

With the order lifted, wineries can open for outdoor service.

Hotels can resume operations and restaurants can open for outdoor dining once again, but a travel advisory recommending against nonessential travel beyond 120 miles from home remains in place.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom on January 25 announced the end of a regional stay-home order that had been in effect throughout most of the state since December on the basis of intensive care unit (ICU) capacity.

In December, as each region in California hit less than 15 percent ICU capacity within its hospitals, the region was required to comply with the order. But current projections show the state’s regions are each already at or returning to above 15 percent capacity in the coming weeks.

The stay-home order had asked that residents stay home and avoid private gatherings, and it banned nonessential travel in the state. Now, California has reverted back to its color-coded tier system for COVID-19-related rules and regulations.

The vast majority of counties within California are now in the most restrictive purple tier, which indicates “widespread” risk level. While in the purple tier, restaurants and wineries can open for outdoor dining and tastings again. Under the stay-home order, outdoor dining had been considered off limits with restaurants able to only accept takeout and delivery orders. Bars and breweries in counties in the purple tier must remain closed—though patrons should check for pick-up and delivery options.

Museums, movie theaters, zoos, and aquariums, are allowed to reopen, but only outdoors. Retail stores can remain open at 25 percent capacity, and grocery stores at 50 percent (capacity limits were slightly lower during the stay-home order, 20 and 35 percent, respectively).

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In a January 25 press conference announcing the end of the stay-home order, Governor Newsom noted that the number of new coronavirus cases in California is beginning to decrease, along with hospitalizations, ICU occupancy, and deaths. 

“We’re seeing a flattening of the curve . . . but we are not out of the woods,” Newsom said in the press conference, during which the governor asked that Californians remain vigilant by continuing to wear masks and avoid gatherings.

Are hotels in California open?

Under the guidelines for the purple tier, hotels and lodgings in California can reopen for guests with some modifications—fitness centers can only be opened outdoors, and indoor pools, hot tubs, and saunas must remain closed.

Under the stay-home order, hotels and lodgings were only permitted to accept reservations for those traveling for essential purposes, such as for work or to provide critical infrastructure support. But that requirement no longer applies.

Campgrounds, including those within state and national parks, are able to open back up as well—many had been closed during the stay-home order.

Are there any restrictions on travel to and within California?

On January 6, the California Department of Public Health issued a travel advisory recommending that Californians avoid nonessential travel anywhere beyond 120 miles of their home. The advisory also strongly discourages nonessential travel from other states or countries and asks that everyone arriving in California from out of state quarantine for 10 days after arrival—essential workers are exempt. As of press time, this order remained in effect.

San Francisco had a 10-day mandatory quarantine order—punishable by a misdemeanor charge—in place for the duration of the stay-home order.

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As of December 30, Los Angeles County requires all incoming travelers arriving from anywhere outside the Southern California region to quarantine for 10 days. According to L.A. health officials, a quarantine “means staying at home or another place of temporary shelter and away from contact with others, including those in one’s household (unless they are also under quarantine), for a period of 10 days.” The county asks that inbound travelers continue to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after arrival. This order is in place until it is officially rescinded.

As for international visitors, per U.S. government restrictions, foreign nationals who have been in China, Iran, South Africa, the European Schengen area, Brazil, the United Kingdom, or Ireland in the previous 14 days will be denied entry into California. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are exempt.

On January 26, a new nationwide order mandated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires international arrivals to provide documentation of negative COVID-19 test results procured within three days of their departure to the U.S. They will also be required to quarantine for one week after arrival stateside following a negative COVID test result from three to five days posttravel. With no test, the CDC requires international travelers to quarantine for 14 days.

There are currently no additional restrictions on travel to California from within the United States, and all of the state’s major airports, including Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport, remain open with flights operating.

Are Disneyland, Legoland, and other theme parks open?

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The purple tier mandates that theme parks must remain closed. Thus, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure and major theme parks are currently closed in California.

When Will Disneyland and Other California Theme Parks Reopen?

Some of the shopping areas, however, remain open, including the Downtown Disney District, the Universal CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood, and the Big Shop at Legoland California.

An evolving situation

As the number of cases climbs and recedes in California, additional closures and reopenings could take place throughout the state. Visit California has compiled a comprehensive list of links to all of the state’s city and county travel sites, which offer travelers resources for navigating what is and isn’t open in California.

This story was originally published on June 9, 2020, and was updated on January 25, 2021, to include current information.

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