Essential California: ‘Limited’ curfew for most Californians

Aerial view of cars in line at night
Motorists line up at a coronavirus test site in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium.
(Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Nov. 20, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

As coronavirus cases continue their unprecedented surge in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a limited curfew that will apply to much of the state. Announced Thursday afternoon, the new rules go into effect Saturday and will apply to all counties currently in the most restrictive “purple” tier of the state’s reopening road map — a classification that currently encompasses about 94% of the state’s population.

[Read the story: “California will impose ‘limited’ curfew due to COVID-19 surge” in the Los Angeles Times]

The order issued by the California Department of Public Health will prohibit most nonessential activity outside the home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m in the 41 designated counties. The restriction lasts through Dec. 21, though it could be extended. The announcement from the governor’s office framed it as a “limited Stay at Home order” like the one issued in March, but with the rules solely applied to those overnight hours. Newsom himself was noticeably absent from Thursday’s news conference, a departure from his usual practice of making major announcements about the state’s COVID-19 response.


So what does all this actually mean, practically speaking? A restaurant or bar won’t be able to continue sit-down service past 10 p.m., but you could still pick up takeout, go for a walk or run to the pharmacy after 10 p.m. Private gatherings must also conclude at 10 p.m. The order does not apply to people experiencing homelessness.

In a press release, officials pointed to the fact that overnight activities are often nonessential and “more likely related to social activities and gatherings that have a higher likelihood of leading to reduced inhibition and reduced likelihood for adherence to safety measures.”

Earlier this week, Los Angeles County officials took a similar but slightly more limited step, announcing that restaurants, breweries, bars, wineries and nonessential retail establishments in the county must close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., effective Friday.

The announcements come as officials continue to sound urgent alarm bells on both the state and local level. Los Angeles County reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases Thursday, the most it has seen in any one day since the pandemic began.

Over the one-week period that ended Wednesday, the state, on average, recorded more than 10,000 new cases each day — an unprecedented figure that has more than tripled from a month ago, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis.

As my colleagues report, California has never experienced sustained daily case counts this high — even during the midsummer surge, which previously stood as the most expansive and deadliest time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state has seen a 64% increase in hospitalizations over over the last two weeks, and a 41% increase in ICU admissions.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Who will get the first COVID vaccines? California and other states race to decide. State and federal health officials have largely agreed that frontline healthcare workers who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients should be vaccinated first, a vital step as infections soar this fall, filling hospitals across the country. That means most Americans shouldn’t expect to get a vaccine at their doctor’s office or pharmacy for many months. Los Angeles Times

[See also: “Distributing vaccine will be biggest health operation in L.A. history. Can the bureaucracy pull it off?” in the Los Angeles Times]

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.


Even as COVID-19 surges, Triller planned a red carpet party in a Hollywood Hills mansion. The L.A.-based company operates a video sharing app that competes with TikTok. Los Angeles Times

In other mansion news, “The Bachelor” mansion is now on Airbnb. The reality-TV-famous Malibu home rents for $5,828 per night, roses not included. Architectural Digest

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President Trump is escalating his slapdash yet persistent attempts to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory, pushing for judges and for Republican state lawmakers and local officials in several battleground states to ignore voters’ verdicts there and award him the electoral votes he needs for a second term. Los Angeles Times

In the waning days of Trump’s presidency, White House press pool reports are getting snarkier. Pool reports are typically rote dispatches, penned by a chosen reporter who travels with the president for the day and relays information to the rest of the press corps. Washington Post

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is “seriously considering” running against Gov. Gavin Newsom: The outgoing San Diego mayor is a moderate Republican, and Newsom is next up for reelection in 2022. Politico

Rising star Michael Tubbs — a leading national voice on universal basic income — lost his bid to return as Stockton mayor. Tubbs was ousted by Republican challenger Kevin Lincoln, a military veteran who has never held political office. Los Angeles Times

A new bill would force the federal government to take a more active role in funding and managing Salton Sea habitat restoration and dust suppression. The bill was introduced Thursday by Southern California Democrats Rep. Raul Ruiz and Rep. Juan Vargas. Desert Sun


Indigenous tribes took over Alcatraz 51 years ago. You can now read the “Alcatraz Log Book” — which documented the event with thousands of entries — made accessible for the first time in a newly digitized format. Los Angeles Times

Black-and-white photo of a man in traditional Native American dress with Alcatraz in the background
Adam Nordwall, 40, Chippewa, stands at the rail of the three-masted clipper Monte Cristo as it sails past Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay on Nov. 9, 1969. The 19-month Indigenous occupation of Alcatraz drew attention to Indigenous civil rights.
(Bill Beattie / Associated Press)

With tiny turkeys in demand, sellers are getting creative. Just 40% of the turkeys sold this month at Gelson’s have exceeded 16 pounds, down from 80% in a normal November. Los Angeles Times

Hoping to camp in California in 2021? Now is apparently the time to book your dates. San Francisco Chronicle

Napa, Sonoma and Tehachapi? The Tehachapi Mountains have received an official appellation as a designated wine grape-growing region, meaning local vintners can label their bottles as coming from the newly designated Tehachapi Mountains American Viticultural Area. Bakersfield Californian

“It’s absolutely unthinkable that the governor would attend a gathering at an establishment that peaked 15 years ago.” Satire site The Onion has officially weighed in on French Laundry-gate. The Onion

A poem to start your Friday: “Everyone Was Beautiful” by Paul Hostovsky. Poems from “Dear Truth”

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Los Angeles: cloudy, 75. San Diego: partly sunny, 70. San Francisco: partly sunny, 63. San Jose: sunny, 64. Fresno: partly sunny, 61. Sacramento: sunny, 63. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Mayer Margolis:

In 1969, my wife and I visited Berkeley on our honeymoon. There were signs on Telegraph Avenue, the main street running in front of the University of California, which read, “Telegraph Avenue is a drug-free zone.” This was hilarious because you could walk down Telegraph Avenue and get high on the secondhand smoke.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.