California has lifted its statewide stay-at-home order on Monday in response to improving coronavirus trends. The lifting of the order will allow for restaurants and personal services to reopen with modified operations for the first time in weeks.
California Governor Gavin Newsom had set the stay-at-home orders in early December, ahead of the holiday season as coronavirus cases began to worsen in the state. The orders outlined the state into five regions with orders based on an area's available intensive care unit (ICU) capacity. Before Monday's announcement, three regions were still under the order: San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area and Southern California.
State health officials now project that ICU capacity in every region will drop below 85% in four weeks after operating close to or at max capacity for weeks. Southern California, which is the state's most populous region, is still operating with very limited capacity. However, in the next four weeks the region is projected to have 33.3% ICU capacity, which is the highest out of all five regions.
"Seven weeks ago, our hospitals and front-line medical workers were stretched to their limits, but Californians heard the urgent message to stay home when possible and our surge after the December holidays did not overwhelm the healthcare system to the degree we had feared," California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in a statement.
"California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we've been hoping for," Ghaly added.
Moving forward, restaurants in the state will be able to serve outdoor diners, while hair and nail salons and other like businesses may reopen and retailers can allow more customers in their stores at a time. California is also lifting its 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that was set to limit social gatherings.
While the state's improving conditions signal progress for the United States hot spot, local public health officials are still concerned that the public may now relax their personal health safety measures while the state is still working to control its outbreak.
Elsewhere, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the state has reached the end of its holiday infection surge and the state may begin easing restrictions on some businesses as soon as this week if positive trends continue.
"We believe that we're at the end of the holiday spike period," Cuomo stated during a press conference. "From the increased [holiday] celebration we believe that it went up, we believe is come down, and we believe were seeing a flattening and a reduction."