UPDATE: I woke up this morning to see this bad news, as reported by CBS2: “Eleven Southern California counties are set to put a regional stay-at-home order into effect as early as Saturday by 12:59 p.m. The move comes after the region’s available intensive care unit beds dropped under 15%, under a new order issued Thursday by Governor Gavin Newsom. The region’s ICU capacity was 13.1% because of the growing number of coronavirus cases, the California Department of Public Health announced Friday night. It is expected to remain in effect for three weeks.” Read the full story here: Regional SoCal Stay-At-Home Order Set To Be Triggered By Alarming Increase Of Coronavirus Cases
It’s mind-boggling to me that I’m actually writing this but I just watched Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s press conference and he just issued a sobering warning to Angelenos: He says that we are in the most dangerous time of Los Angeles’ history because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Mayor Garcetti informed everyone that once hospital ICU bed capacity falls below 15%, the state will shut down the region. And right now, most of the regions that are popular with tourists are nearing that mark. He said that the shutdown could come as early as this weekend or early next week. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen but unfortunately, the numbers are expected to go up because of Thanksgiving gatherings.
What does this mean for Los Angeles residents and travelers? When a stay-at-home order begins, here’s what will change immediately, per ABC7:
-Restaurants would close to both indoor and outdoor dining. They could only do takeout or delivery.
-Bars and wineries have to close (indoor and outdoor)
-Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and other personal care services have to close
-All retail stores can stay open, but must drop capacity to 20%
-Private gatherings of any size will be prohibited
According to the Los Angeles Times, affected communities will also be required to close playgrounds, zoos, museums, aquariums and wineries. Overnight, short-term stays at campgrounds would be prohibited.
Per another LA Times article, “all non-essential travel is temporarily restricted statewide, effective immediately and regardless of whether your county is under a stay-at-home order. Hotels and motels are now restricted to only guests traveling for an ‘essential’ reason.”
That means that if you have travel plans, your hotel reservation will be canceled unless you’re traveling for an essential reason. The good news is that both Mayor Garcetti and Governor Newsom also said that “parks and beaches would remain open and that Californians could boost their mental health by hiking, running, fishing, practicing yoga, skiing, snowboarding and otherwise savoring outdoor activities.”
Most of this information can be found on the California government’s COVID-19 website but it’s not nearly as easy to comprehend as the news stories listed above. However, this website does state: “Stay in your county if you can. Don’t drive more than 2-3 hours. The California Department of Public Health has issued a Travel Advisory encouraging Californians to avoid non-essential travel. You can travel for urgent matters or if such travel is essential to your permitted work. Even though businesses around the state are opening up, avoid traveling long distances for vacations or pleasure as much as possible. This is to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Do not travel if you are sick, or if someone in your household has had coronavirus in the last two weeks. Do not travel with someone who is sick.”
Unfortunately, it’s not just California that travelers should be avoiding. It’s essentially everywhere right now as hospitals around the world are reaching capacity. In fact, the most popular international destination for American travelers is Mexico and they were just added to the WHO and CDC’s list of places to avoid. Read more in this Reuters article.
Mexico isn’t the only country. In fact, most are now listed as a no-go, which you can find out more about here. There are only about 50 countries that are listed as low risk and most of them are places Americans aren’t currently allowed to visit, like Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, Thailand and Hong Kong. See the full list here.
There’s no doubt we’re living in surreal times but thanks to the vaccines, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. We just need to sit tight for a few more months and follow the advice of the health professionals, even if that means canceling that dream trip or that much-needed family get-together. Better yet, don’t cancel. Just postpone. We’ll get back to travel soon. We can all use this time to start planning our future travels and know that when we finally do travel again, we’ll feel safer doing so. That counts for a lot.