Officials with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), on Monday, ended the regional stay at home order for all regions statewide, including the Southern California area of which San Luis Obispo County is a part. The San Joaquin Valley and Bay Area were also removed from the list.

Four-week ICU capacity projections for these regions are above 15%, the threshold that allows for exiting the order. The Sacramento region exited on January 12 and the Northern California region never entered the order.

This action allows all counties statewide to return to the rules and framework of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and color-coded tiers that indicate which activities and businesses are open based on local case rates and test positivity. The majority of the counties are in the strictest, or purple tier. Tier updates are provided weekly on Tuesdays. Individual counties could choose to impose stricter rules.

“Californians heard the urgent message to stay home as much as possible and accepted that challenge to slow the surge and save lives,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, CDPH director and state public health officer, in a news release. “Together, we changed our activities knowing our short-term sacrifices would lead to longer-term gains. COVID-19 is still here and still deadly, so our work is not over, but it’s important to recognize our collective actions saved lives and we are turning a critical corner.” 

While there are positive signs that the virus is spreading at a slower rate across the state, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, officials caution. It is still critical that Californians continue to wear masks when they leave their homes, maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet, wash their hands frequently, avoid gatherings and mixing with other households, follow all state and local health department guidance and get the vaccine when it’s their turn.

“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,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “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 health care system to the degree we had feared.”

Nearly all the counties exiting the regional stay at home order are in the Purple or widespread (most restrictive) tier, including SLO. Services and activities, such as outdoor dining and personal services, may resume immediately with required modifications, subject to any additional restrictions required by local jurisdictions. For a detailed list of what types of businesses are and aren’t open, go to https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/

Because case rates remain high across most of the state, the state’s hospital surge order remains in place to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. The limited stay at home order, which limits non-essential activities between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., expires with the regional stay at home order ending.