Some regions, including Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, have already triggered the mandate, while San Francisco and other Bay Area counties preemptively opted into the order starting Sunday at 10 p.m.
As well as prohibiting private gatherings of any size and closing nonessential businesses, the regional stay-at-home order says hotels and other accommodations are only allowed to be open to support critical infrastructure.
Specifically, they’re not allowed to “accept or honor out of state reservations for non-essential travel, unless the reservation is for at least the minimum time period required for quarantine and the persons identified in the reservation will quarantine in the hotel or lodging entity until after that time period has expired.”
Nonessential travel is defined by the department as, “travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.”
Additionally, the current California Department of Public Health travel advisory discourages nonessential travel, and it says out-of-state visitors should self-quarantine for 14 days after their arrival. Californians are also encouraged to stay home or in their region and avoid nonessential travel to other states or countries.
What experts say: Postpone your trip
George Rutherford, the head of University of California at San Francisco’s infectious-disease and global epidemiology division, says those planning on traveling to California for the holidays should cancel their plans.
“What we’ve learned is that travel brings a lot of disease into the state,” Rutherford says. “We also export disease, by the way.”
Those who travel to California risk undermining the state’s effort to address its crisis with intensive care units.
“We love having travelers in California. Tourism is a huge part of the economy, but lockdown means lockdown,” he says.
Rutherford says if the state can’t improve its ICU capacity, it may suffer a fate like New York did in March. “What led to all the deaths in New York was that the ICUs got so out of control and were so overwhelmed,” he says. “That’s what’s going to happen here, but it’s going to happen on a scale that’s five times higher because population is so much higher.”
If you decide to travel, prepare to quarantine
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently advising Americans to postpone travel altogether, those who still plan on traveling to California for the holidays are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
Consider getting a coronavirus test before and after travel
At this time, the CDC recommends travelers get a viral test one to three days before a trip, and another three to five days after traveling. Additionally, the CDC recommends reducing nonessential activities for a full week to 10 days after travel, even if your post-travel test comes back negative.
Rutherford warns that depending on where travelers are staying, they may have difficulty getting a coronavirus test in California.
“It’s not that readily available,” he says, adding people with symptoms shouldn’t have a problem getting a test.
Follow up-to-date coronavirus precautions while traveling
The new guidance, published last week, asks people to put on masks anywhere outside their homes, including indoor spaces and particularly when spending time around people who have higher risks of exposure.
California’s regional stay-at-home order also requires people to follow “100% masking and physical distancing” when in public.
Travel during the pandemic: