Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a three-week, regional stay-at-home order for areas where ICU capacity falls below 15%.
During a press conference on Thursday, Gov. Newsom remarked that California’s five regions, Northern California, Greater Sacramento, the Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California, are expected to see their ICU capacities fall to below 15% later this month as COVID-19 cases rise. The Bay Area is expected to reach this point by mid to late December, while the other four regions are projected to reach it within the coming weeks.
Santa Barbara County is in the Southern California region.
When a region is under the new stay-at-home order, sectors such as bars, wineries, personal services, and hair salons and barbershops will be temporarily closed. Sectors that will remain open include schools that have received a reopening waiver, critical infrastructure, retail businesses at 20% capacity, and restaurants for take-out and delivery.
Under the stay-at-home order, all non-essential travel will be restricted statewide.
Gov. Newsom called the looming lockdowns as “a temporary moment.”
“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “We are a few months away from truly seeing real progress with the vaccine, real distribution, real accessibility, real availability. We do not anticipate having to do this once again, but we really all need to step up.”
The governor reported that 600 million pieces of personal protective equipment have been distributed to California, and that the state has 40 million more masks than the United States’ national stockpile. There are 21,000 ventilators available in California, with 6,996 available within hospitals. The rest are in state inventory.
For businesses impacted by stay-at-home order, the state is providing billions of dollars in sales tax deferrals without interest and penalties. These include an automatic three-month extension for taxpayers with less than $1 million in sales tax, and an expansion of interest-free payment agreements to larger companies with up to $5 million in sales tax.
According to the governor, 99.6% of businesses qualify for these deferrals.
The state is also providing a $100 million main street hiring tax credit of $1,000 per qualified employee and up to $100,000 per business employer. Thus far, 2,492 businesses have already applied for the credit and $20.9 million of the $100 million has already been allocated.
On Monday, the state passed a $500 million COVID relief package offering grants of up to $25,000 to small businesses, nonprofits, and cultural institutions.