Changes in Businesses, Sports and Travel in Santa Clara County Due to COVID-19

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A record number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across Santa Clara County prompted health officials to sound the alarm on Saturday and announce new restrictions on sports, businesses and travelers.

The restrictions in Santa Clara County include a ban on contact sports like the San Francisco 49ers football team, quarantines for travelers outside the region, and reduced capacity inside businesses and facilities open to the public.

The new measures are in addition to the county's purple tier designation and will be effective Monday through at least Dec. 21.

"We have come to a place where our cases and our hospitalizations are so high that we must do something to settle things down," said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody at a Saturday press conference.

Cody and other officials urged residents to stay home whenever possible, wear masks and observe social distancing. On Saturday, the county saw 760 new cases -- shattering the previous record by 215, Cody said. There were also a record 239 COVID patients at hospitals, 71 of them in intensive care units.

Health officials expect virus-spreading Thanksgiving gatherings and flu season to add more patients and overwhelm hospitals by mid-December.

"This pandemic is like a high-speed train and our projections tell us we are on target to derail by the third week of December if we don't apply brakes right now with all our collective might," Cody said.

The county has seen 32,985 cases since the pandemic began, the highest in the greater Bay Area, and 476 deaths. The county's new restrictions limit capacity to 10 percent at businesses and facilities that are open to the public, except grocery stores and pharmacies, which are allowed 25 percent capacity, said County Counsel James Williams.

In addition, all facilities must establish a system to keep track of the number of people inside, such as posting an employee at the entrance.

First Amendment-protected gatherings, such as religious services or protests, are allowed outdoors with a maximum attendance of 100 people, Williams said.

Professional, collegiate and youth sports like football that involve physical contact or close proximity to persons outside one's household, including all contact sports, are temporarily banned.

People can continue to engage in outdoor athletics and recreation where social distancing can be maintained at all times. Cardrooms are temporarily closed, and hotels and lodging facilities are only allowed to be open for essential travel and to use for isolation or quarantine.

Leisure and non-essential travel are strongly discouraged, and a new directive requires people to quarantine for 14 days upon return to the county from travel of more than 150 miles away.

Healthcare workers traveling into the county to provide care or patients traveling into the county to obtain treatment will be exempted.

The new Santa Clara County restrictions are effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

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