Multiple Bay Area counties announced Friday that they would preemptively tighten restrictions on certain businesses as coronavirus case rates rise across the region and across the state.
Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Marin counties all announced that they would shut down higher-risk indoor activities like indoor dining effective Tuesday before their case rates require the three counties to move to a more-restrictive tier of the state’s pandemic reopening system.
Contra Costa County’s newest health order will shut down indoor dining, indoor gyms and fitness centers and concession stands at movie theaters, according to Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer.
Indoor seating at restaurants and indoor gyms have been allowed in the county for just over six weeks, but the county’s recent increase in its rate of new cases per day per 100,000 residents — which the state uses to assign counties to tiers — has trended in the wrong direction in recent days.
“Indoor interactions at restaurants, movie theaters, and indoor gyms and fitness centers are high-risk activities,” Farnitano said. “And given what we’re seeing happen across the country and the region, we must act now.”
Contra Costa County took similar action last week, closing outdoor bars and reducing maximum indoor capacities at restaurants, religious facilities and indoor movie theaters, in advance of the county’s move last Tuesday from the orange tier to the more-restrictive red tier.
Marin and Santa Clara counties have also seen notable rises in their case rates in recent weeks, and both will also shut down indoor dining.
Marin County’s new health order will reduce maximum indoor capacities at retail stores and malls, libraries, museums, worship facilities and gyms; allowing wineries, family entertainment centers and card rooms to operate solely outdoors; and closing indoor pools and bars and breweries that don’t provide food with alcohol purchases.
“We’re seeing more people getting sick with COVID-19 and needing hospitalization,” Marin County Health Officer Dr. Matthew Willis said. “With flu season and potential impacts from holiday gatherings and travel, it’s time to act to prevent a much larger surge.”
Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody, in anticipation that the county will move from the orange tier into the red tier on Tuesday, said the county will enforce the changes wrought by that tier change immediately.
Cody said the county’s case rate has spiked since the end of October.
“Unfortunately, I think our trends are not headed in a favorable direction for us,” she said. “Similar to March, when we had a rapid increase in cases, we may be needing to take additional restrictions quickly.”
The three health officers all reiterated that Bay Area residents need to wear masks and other face coverings when out in public, practice physical distancing and follow other local and state public health guidance to reduce case rates across the region.
Keeping the virus’ spread under control will also help small businesses stay afloat and enable kids to continue attending school in-person to some extent.
“Today really is bad news, but it’s a call to action,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said at a briefing announcing the county’s tightened restrictions
“It’s our time to act. We’re asking those of you who’ve done everything you can, do a little more. And those of you who have been slacking, we need your help.”
The changes in all three counties are expected to take effect Tuesday.