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Santa Clara County issues tough, new COVID-19 rules including quarantines for some – The Mercury News


Nov 28, 2020

Santa Clara County released new COVID-19 restrictions in light of its rising caseload Saturday, including a temporary ban on all high school, collegiate and professional contact sports, a mandatory quarantine for those traveling into the region from more than 150 miles away and new capacity limits for indoor businesses.

The new restrictions arrive as California experiences its worst COVID-19 surge yet and within hours of a rollback from San Francisco and San Mateo counties, which both ordered curfews as they were placed into the state’s most restrictive “purple” reopening tier.

Santa Clara County’s new restrictions will include a 14-day quarantine for all those traveling to the county from more than 150 miles away, as well as a temporary ban on sporting activities involving contact with other people — including professional sports like the San Francisco 49ers football team. Cardrooms must temporarily close, while hotels and other facilities must be open only for essential travel or to facilitate isolation or quarantine.

“I know this is not what any of us want to hear, nor is this situation one any of us want to be in, but here we are,” said Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.

Stores must be limited to 10% capacity, excepting grocery stores, drug stores and pharmacies, which may operate at 25% capacity. Health care workers traveling into the county to provide care — or patients — will be exempt from quarantine.

The new directives will go into effect on Monday at 12:01 a.m. and last until at least Dec. 21, a time period of three weeks, though they may be extended again.

It was yet not entirely clear how the new restrictions would affect the county’s vast network of high school, college and professional sports. The order’s executive summary refers to “all recreational activities that involve physical contact or close proximity to persons outside one’s household, including all contact sports,” but does not specify whether any sports will be exempt from the temporary ban.

County CEO Jeff Smith clarified to this news organization that the order includes football, basketball, soccer and hockey — in other words, the 49ers and the San Jose Sharks hockey team — but that tennis and swimming are exempt because they do not involve direct contact between people. The county has been in touch with both professional leagues and Stanford University, a Division 1 school, he said.

“That means that for those teams, they will not be able to play games or have practices where they have direct contact,” added County Counsel James Williams.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, indoor worship and movie theaters, indoor gyms, and indoor operations at museums, aquariums and zoos must close starting at noon Sunday. Retail must limit capacity to 25%. A curfew that will go into place starting Monday night will bar non-essential travel between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Restaurants in those two counties may continue to operate outdoors.

Coronavirus cases have risen dramatically statewide over the past few weeks, including the Bay Area. California’s seven-day average case count was 13,092 as of Friday, an increase of about 77% since Nov. 13 — even without case updates from some counties during the holiday week. The state’s positivity rate hovers at about 6.2%, more than double its 3% rate at the end of October.

Santa Clara leads the region in terms of overall cases, with more than 32,000 recorded since the pandemic began and 531 infections reported Friday. The county’s average weekly cases hit an all-time high of 422 Friday, marking the third day in a row that the average has beaten its previous August record of 360 weekly average cases.

In San Mateo, cases have spiked by about 85% over the past month, officials said, with a seven-day average of about 102 new daily infections as compared to 88 in mid-November.

“We have not seen numbers like this in quite a while and we really need to reverse this incredibly troubling trend,” San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy said in a statement announcing the county’s move to the purple tier. “What’s important to remember is that we can reverse the trend as long as we follow common-sense health and safety practices.”

Fifty-one of California’s 58 counties — more than 90% of the state’s population — are within the state’s purple reopening tier. Los Angeles County released its own stay-at-home order Friday night.


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