South Bay residents and businesses are under new, more restrictive rules as Santa Clara County hits record single-day Covid-19 positive tests and hospitalizations.
Starting Monday, most businesses that have indoor operations will only be allowed to fill their buildings to 10 percent of the normal capacity, down from the 25 percent limit previously set under earlier health orders.
The only exception will be grocery stores, drug stores and pharmacies, which can continue to operate at a quarter of full capacity.
While people can still gather outdoors, groups are limited to 100 people—including for those protected by the First Amendment, like religious services and protests.
“The number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in our county has doubled in just the past couple of weeks, and we are at risk of exceeding our hospital capacity very soon if current trends continue,” Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s top health official said. “During this critical time of surging COVID-19 transmission in our community, I urge every resident to exercise caution and to the greatest extent possible, minimize contact with anyone outside of your immediate household.”
By Saturday, 760 new cases of Covid-19 and 239 hospitalizations—71 in the ICU—had been identified, marking new records for single-day counts since the Bay Area—and specifically the South Bay—emerged as a hotspot for the pandemic in March.
All sports that involve close physical contact with people outside a single home are prohibited while the new restrictions are in place. Outdoor activities where physical distance of at least six feet can be maintained at all times are still allowed. The restrictions apply to professional, high school and collegiate sports.
Card rooms are closed while the new, more restrictive health order is in place. Hotels and other types of lodging are closed for anything except for essential travel or to be used to help people isolate and quarantine.
The new public health order “strongly discourages” non-essential travel, but for those who do travel from more than 150 miles outside the county, a 14-day quarantine will now be required upon their return.
The new requirements will be in effect from Monday until 5am Dec. 21, unless county officials extend the order in advance.
Read more about the new restrictions on the county’s website.