coronavirus

Bay Area Counties Pause Further Reopenings Amid Rise in COVID-19 Cases

Multiple counties pausing, moving backwards as spike continues

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Public health officials in multiple Bay Area counties have decided to temporarily pause further openings to the economy following an increase in COVID-19 case rates and the rise in the number of Bay Area and statewide cases.

Santa Clara County Public Health Officer on Friday announced the county was sliding back to the more restrictive red tier in the state's reopening guidance, meaning indoor dining would be shut down once again, effective Tuesday.

Also in Santa Clara County, fitness centers would be restricted to 10% capacity, wineries would be limited to outdoor service, and family entertainment centers such as bowling alleys would be required to close again.

Santa Clara County's public health officer announced Friday that indoor dining will be shut down come Tuesday as the county heads for a more restrictive reopening tier. Scott Budman reports.

Much is the same in Marin County where officials have called for a similar reversal in reopenings, including the closure of indoor dining, effective Tuesday.

San Francisco and Contra Costa counties paused further reopenings this week and even tightened restrictions on indoor operations at restaurants and other businesses.

Contra Costa's Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano issued a new order Friday to close indoor dining, indoor fitness centers and concession stands at theaters effective Tuesday. The county recently moved from the orange tier to the more restrictive red tier in the state's reopening guidelines.

It's closing time in San Francisco. The city is the first local county to reinstate a ban on indoor dining in hopes of stopping the surge of new COVID cases. Christie Smith reports.

"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.”

Alameda County's new daily cases per 100,000 people has jumped from a low of 3.4 to 4.9. County public health officials expect to move the county to a more restrictive tier soon in the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

"We must exercise caution and prepare to move quickly to protect our residents and hospitals from rising cases of COVID-19," Dr. Nicholas Moss, the county's health officer, said in a statement.

"We continue to closely monitor the situation," he said. "If necessary, we will restrict activities that are higher risk for spreading COVID, including those in which people gather indoors without masks."

The caution comes as county officials have seen day-over-day increases in the number of new reported cases of the coronavirus as well as increases in hospitalizations.

Contra Costa and Santa Cruz counties on Tuesday moved to a more restrictive tier. In Contra Costa, that means retail businesses and malls must scale back capacity to 50% or 100 people, whichever is fewer. And indoor entertainment businesses such as bowling alleys and theaters must close again.

Tighter restrictions also go into effect in San Francisco as it moves back to the state's orange tier. That means indoor dining will be suspended, and theaters and gyms must reduce capacity.

Statewide, a rolling average of new cases has risen and so has the number of hospitalizations.

Alameda County public health officials said with flu season imminent, flu cases this year will be a greater burden on the health care system because the coronavirus and flu have similar symptoms.

Residents are urged to get a flu shot and to follow the guidance by Bay Area health officials on holiday gathering and travel, which can be found here.

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