Newsom Lifts Stay-At-Home Order; Outdoor Dining Legal Again

Photo credit: Corky Fullerton Foundry

Governor Gavin Newsom has lifted the stay-at-home order he imposed on December 3, in response to the surging number of COVID-19 cases in  attempt to prevent hospital ICUs from being overwhelmed.  Among other things, the stay-at-home order had banned outdoor dining – a blow to restaurants already reeling from Newsom’s on-again/off-again shutdowns and continuously changing re-opening guidelines.

Lifting the order basically puts Orange County back in the Governor’s Tier 1 or “purple tier” (the most restrictive), along with the other counties grouped into the “Southern California Region” established by the Newsom Administration.

For businesses, it means:

  • Restaurants can resume outdoor dining (but not indoor dining).
  • Grocery stores and other retailers deemed essential can operate at 50 percent of indoor customer capacity.
  • Retailers deemed by the state to be “non-essential” can only operate at 25% of indoor customer capacity.
  • Hair and nail salons can re-open.
  • Gyms and fitness centers can operate outside.
  • Churches and other places of worship can only conduct outdoor services.

Hotels are now allowed to accept reservations from anyone. Previously, they were restricted to out-of-state visitors whose reservations were longer than the quarantine period; to California residents who were assisting with COVID-19, fires; and to the homeless. While this is of limited benefit until the Disneyland Resort is allowed to re-open, it is better than nothing.

Click here for more detailed information on what businesses the Newsom Administration allows and does not allow to be open under Tier 1.

Counties can impose restrictions that are more stringent than the Newsom Administration’s tiers. For example, Los Angeles County has banned outdoor dining since early in the pandemic – with little apparent impact on the spread of COVID-19 infections. However, counties cannot go further than the state in liberalizing – or even lifting –  pandemic restrictions.
Nonetheless, lifting the stay-at-home order is good news for a businesses community already groaning under Governor Newsom’s restrictive and capricious COVID restrictions regime.  Retailers can open their stores to increased customer traffic, and restaurants can legally resume outdoor dining.
It’s worth noting that a growing number of restaurants have been ignoring the Governor’s restrictions, even during the stay-at-home order.  For example, restaurants on the Paseo in downtown Orange continued their bustling outdoor dining trade. Many cities and counties have adopted a policy of non-enforcement. For businesses faced with a choice between bankruptcy and operating outside the Governor’s restrictions, more and more choose the latter.
Governor Newsom’s willy-nilly strategy of arbitrary COVID restrictions and guidelines – combined with his public disregard for his own rules – has been to habituate Californians to simply ignoring these rules. This is a predictable, unfortunate and largely unremarked-upon consequences of Newsom’s pandemic strategy – the fallout from which will remain after the pandemic has passed.


  1. It’s in reaction to the recall. It makes ZERO sense to lift it based on that data if the lock down did anything in the first place which it doesn’t.

  2. I hope anybody that ignores the restrictions also will refuse medical care when they catch the virus. Was this handled correctly? In known, what I do know, is that Federal government butchered the initial information leaving everybody guessing. How about some of the whiners come up with a plan. Also remembering, if they don’t follow guidelines, no medical service offered. Yes, this has been horrible, but everybody was playing by their own rules. And the recall is idiotic.

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