Los Angeles County announced a new stay-home order Friday as coronavirus cases surged out of control in the nation’s most populous county, banning most gatherings but stopping short of a full shutdown on retail stores and other non-essential businesses. The three-week “safer at home" order takes effect Monday, the AP reports. It came as the county of 10 million residents confirmed 24 new deaths and 4,544 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The county had set a threshold for issuing the stay-home order: an average of 4,500 cases a day over a five-day period, but hadn't expected to reach that level until next month. However, the five-day average of new cases reported Friday was 4,751. The order advises residents to stay home “as much as possible” and to wear a face covering when they go out. It bans people from gathering with others who aren’t in their households, whether publicly or privately.
However, exceptions are made for church services and protests, “which are constitutionally protected rights,” the county Department of Public Health said in a statement. Indoor retail businesses, which make much of their profits during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons, are allowed to remain open but with just 20% of capacity, including nail salons and other personal care services. Stores considered essential will be allowed 35% capacity. Outdoor fitness centers, museums and outdoor amusements such as mini-golf can operate at 50% of capacity. Restaurants in the county already were recently barred from in-person dining. They can still offer pickup, delivery and takeout services. Beaches, trails, and parks will remain open, with safety requirements. Schools and day camps can remain open except for those that have three or more COVID-19 cases over 14 days. Those should close for 14 days, the order said.
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