Southern California may be about to leave 2020 behind, but don’t expect any change in COVID-19 restrictions as the new year arrives.
With infections escalating and ICU bed capacity near zero in this region and the San Joaquin Valley, Gov. Gavin Newsom says his stay-home orders for these regions will “likely” be extended through mid-January.
The list below summarizes the status of many California public and private spaces, from campgrounds to reservation casinos.
The governor’s orders were imposed Dec. 6 and were due to last through Monday. Newsom said Monday that he expects Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state secretary of Health and Human Services, to extend them on Tuesday when Ghaly discusses ICU projections for coming weeks. The extensions are expected to last another 21 days.
The state’s Bay Area and Greater Sacramento regions also have stay-home orders coming up for renewal in days ahead. The only region not covered by those orders is the 11 most northern counties in the state, where ICUs are under the least stress.
In each affected region, Newsom’s order forbids nonessential travel, defined as vacation or recreational travel. Whether outdoors or indoors, you can gather only with members of your own household. Also, hair and nail salons, and family entertainment centers will remain shuttered. Retail businesses are limited to 20% capacity and 35% for grocery stores.
Other restrictions for Southern California:
Public playgrounds remain open after a brief closure in early December.
Cardrooms, indoor and outdoor, remain closed.
These places (mostly outdoors) remain open: beaches; piers; skate parks; campgrounds; community gardens; drive-in theaters; golf courses; outdoor places of worship; hotels; batting cages; go-karts; miniature golf courses; tennis, bocce and pickleball courts; outdoor pools; and shooting and archery ranges.
These options (mostly indoors) are off the table: indoor and outdoor dining rooms and patios (takeout is OK); arcades; bowling alleys; movie theaters; bars and distilleries (except for retail sales); nightclubs, live performance theaters and concert venues; museum, gallery and aquarium interiors; indoor places of worship; stadiums and arenas; theme/amusement/water parks (more on that later); and basketball and volleyball courts.
Face coverings and distancing in public are mandatory; public health officials urge all to wash their hands often.
The renewal comes at a tense, in-between moment in the pandemic battle. With vaccinations beginning for front-line medical workers and others, many say the U.S. is now in the closing stretch of a marathon fight. But in many areas, coronavirus infection and death rates are higher than they’ve ever been. Moreover, many people traveled over the Christmas holiday despite warnings not to, leading to worries that hospital conditions could get even worse.
“This is an anxious period,” Newsom acknowledged Monday.
Parks, trails and playgrounds
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• Angeles National Forest, except for areas burned in the recent Bobcat and Lake fires. California 2, Angeles Crest Highway, is closed at Red Box/Mt. Wilson Road until further notice.
• San Bernardino National Forest, except for the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, also because of recent wildfires.
• Federal and state parklands in the Santa Monica Mountains for day use, though some picnic tables and water fountains may not be available.
•Griffith Park. Miles of hiking trails and acres of grass. Some Griffith Park features remain closed, including Griffith Observatory and Travel Town. But the park pony ride is open to children ages 1 to 14.
•Elysian Park in L.A. (Most L.A.-area parks remain open.)
•Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills. (Picnic tables and drinking fountains are not available.)
•Hollywood’s popular Runyon Canyon Park is open with limits. Visitors may complete a one-way loop on the West Trail; the East Trail is closed.
Botanic gardens and zoos
Botanic gardens are limited to 50% capacity under the most recent rules. You’ll need to have an advance reservation before you go.
• The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Griffith Park is closed. Info: L.A. Zoo
• Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations are required (except for members); tickets cost $15. Info: Descanso Gardens
• The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last entry 4:30 p.m.). Reservations are required; tickets cost $15 each. Members may show their card and get in free. Info: The Arboretum
• South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last entry 4:30 p.m.). Reservations are required; tickets cost $15 each. Members may show their card and get in free. Info: South Coast Botanic Garden
• The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino has its outdoor spaces open. If you want to visit, you must make a reservation (even members). Tickets cost $25 to $29 for adults; open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Indoor spaces are closed. And the Huntington is closed on New Year’s Day. Info: The Huntington
• The Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar also requires reservations. Its gardens are open from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (but closed on New Year’s Day); tickets cost $5. Info: Sherman Library & Gardens
• The California Botanic Garden in Claremont requires reservations too. Garden hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. It is closed on New Year’s Day. Tickets/reservations cost $10. Info: California Botanic Garden
Your favorite roller coasters and other rides at theme parks are closed, but Orange County parks have partially reopened for dining and shopping.
•Disneyland Resort hotels remain closed indefinitely, as do the theme parks in Anaheim. However, Downtown Disney District shops and restaurants such as Marceline’s Confectionary and Trolley Treats remain open; food is for takeout only and must be eaten elsewhere. COVID-19 protocols remain in place at the site.
•Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City are closed (but the Knott Berry Farm Hotel and California Marketplace remain open).
•Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita keeps rides closed but will feature its Holiday in the Park drive-through lights experience daily through Jan. 10, weekends through Jan. 31.
California State Parks in affected areas remain open to visitors but have temporarily closed campgrounds for overnight stays. Rangers urge visitors to check in advance with individual parks or ReserveCalifornia.com before their visit.
These Southern California parks are fully closed: Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park in L.A. County; Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park in Kern County; and Border Field State Historic Park in San Diego County.
National parks in California remain open for day use but temporarily closed campgrounds, lodgings and some dining options in early December. Southern California’s two national parks — Joshua Tree and Channel Islands — and Death Valley National Park, which is mostly in Inyo County — have closed campgrounds.
Other outdoor options
•Southern California ski resorts from the Wrightwood area to Big Bear Lake are open daily, with limited lifts operating. (On Sunday night and Monday morning, those resorts got about a foot of new snow.) Many snow play places are open too. You can’t buy walk-up tickets because of the pandemic; make sure you buy a lift ticket before you leave home.
• Hollywood Forever Cemetery will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cemetery schedules hourlong kundalini yoga and meditation classes on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. (weekdays) or 9 a.m. (weekends) on its Fairbanks Lawn. Pay by donation.
• Forest Lawn Glendale, a cemetery that dates to 1906 and includes graves of many entertainment figures. Indoor exhibits (including the Great Mausoleum and the Great Hall of Liberty) are closed.
• Sunset Ranch Hollywood, which offers horseback tours of the upper reaches of Griffith Park near the Hollywood Sign, is open daily (including Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day). Prices for one- and two-hour riding tours, typically six riders per guide, are $50-$95 per person.
• Though the Santa Monica Pier is open, its Pacific Park amusement rides, Ferris wheel and merry-go-round remain closed.
• Pop-up ice rinks are canceled this year. The Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square in downtown L.A., Ice in Santa Monica and other rinks won’t open this year.
Many reservation casinos, citing tribal sovereignty, have reopened throughout California with a variety of pandemic health measures in place. Among them:
• Pechanga (hotel is closed), Riverside County
•Morongo, San Bernardino County
• San Manuel, San Bernardino County