Bay Area counties impose stay-at-home order amid rising COVID-19 cases

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(Samantha Nichols)

By Logan Little

Samantha Nichols contributed additional reporting.

Health officials in Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and the City of Berkeley jointly announced on Dec. 4 that they will restrict all non-essential operations and enact regional stay-at-home orders. Under the new regulations, Bay Area residents must limit contact with non-family members and remain inside their homes as much as possible. Marin county’s lockdown order will go into effect on Dec. 8. 

This follows Governor Gavin Newsom’s Dec. 3 decision to shut down all non-essential operations except retail in regions of California where less than 15 percent of ICU beds are available. 

Although the Bay Area had an ICU capacity of 25 percent on Dec. 3, health officials believe that enacting restrictions early will mitigate the predicted spike in cases over the holidays. 

“It takes several weeks for new restrictions to slow rising hospitalizations and waiting until only 15 percent of a region’s ICU beds are available is just too late,” San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragon said in a Marin county news release. “Many heavily impacted parts of our region already have less than 15 percent of ICU beds available, and the time to act is now.”

Restaurants may only operate via take-out and delivery and retail stores can only stay open at 20 percent capacity. 

The stay-at-home orders do not require schools to return to full distance learning or delay scheduled openings. The Tamalpais Union High School District still plans to introduce a hybrid model at the beginning of the second semester on Jan. 6. “Given the move to Purple Tier, it is unlikely that Marin will move back onto the Red Tier in time for us to open to in-person learning on January 6th,” district superintendent Dr. Tara Taupier said in an email sent to families on Dec. 11. The district plans to provide an update on the return to in-person learning  on Dec. 30. “We will return to in person learning as soon as public health allows it,” Taupier said.

The new restrictions will remain in place until Jan. 4.