Health officials in Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous, announced a new Covid-19 stay-at-home order Friday that will ban most public and private gatherings.
The new restrictions, to take effect Monday and to stay in place at least until Dec. 20, will prohibit public and private gatherings except for those people already living together. Religious services and protests will be exempted.
"Residents are advised to stay home as much as possible and always wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when they are outside their household and around others," the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement Friday.
The new rules affecting the county's 10 million residents will limit essential retailers to 35 percent capacity and non-essential stores to 20 percent. Outdoor fitness centers and museums will be limited to 50 percent normal capacity, and gatherings at beaches are banned. Playgrounds will remain closed.
The restrictions follow a new ban Wednesday on outdoor dining (indoor dining was already banned), leaving restaurants to offer takeout and delivery only.
The stricter rules come after the five-day average for new cases surpassed 4,500, a threshold set by the county Nov. 17. Public health officials said then that if the county reached that threshold, new restrictions would be put in place.
On Friday, the health department reported a five-day average of 4,751 cases and 24 deaths in a 24-hour period.
The health department said the case numbers "remain at alarming levels" while hospitalizations "continue to increase."