Santa Clara County

Bay Area Celebrates Diwali During Pandemic

NBC Universal, Inc.

On Saturday, millions around the world are celebrating the Hindu Festival of Light, Diwali – but this year, the pandemic has dimmed the annual celebration.

Last year during Diwali, Madhuram Indian Cuisine in Fremont was packed with people waiting to get in. It was a much different scene this year, as many in the Bay Area opted to celebrate quietly at home.

Normally, the festival is one of the restaurant’s busiest days of the year.

“It was really, really busy last year,” said Amal Selvaraj, the restaurant’s manager. “We did a good job.”

So few customers came in this weekend that the restaurant decided not to offer the traditional mound of sweets. Instead, they are focusing on to go orders.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise throughout the Bay Area, health leaders are encouraging people not to travel and to only gather with those in their immediate households.

“Gathering with friends and family outside your household is not safe, it’s a fact,” said Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.

Cody spoke at a virtual town hall on Saturday, and she said that the county has seen such a surge that it will be one of the counties to stop indoor dining next week.

A move to the most restrictive purple tier may soon come next.

“I am anticipating to reach that tier sooner rather than later, and the surrounding counties as well,” said Cody. “Most indoor activities are not allowed in the purple tier.”

It’s not just increased restrictions on businesses that are concerning health leaders.

“We’re worried about hospitals being overwhelmed,” Cody said.

A somber reminder as the Bay Area enters a very different holiday season. Cody said that if people absolutely need to be with extended family they should gather outdoors.

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