Six San Francisco Bay Area governments issued a stay-at-home order Friday ahead of California’s statewide mandate, restricting activities in a drastic effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19 as hospitals cope with a surge of patients.
The order applies to the Northern California counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and Santa Clara, the combined city and county of San Francisco, and the city of Berkeley. The order covers more than 5.8 million people.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced a stay-at-home order that will go into effect for any of five regions 48 hours after hospital intensive care unit capacity drops below 15% in a region.
The Bay Area was projected to be the last region in the state to be subject to the governor’s stay-at-home order, predicted to surpass the threshold by mid-to-late December. Friday’s decision means the region will instead be the first.
The Bay Area orders will go into effect beginning Sunday and will remain in effect until January 4, 2021, Contra Costa Health Director Chris Farnitano said.
“I don’t think we can wait for the state’s new restrictions to go into effect later this month,” Farnitano said. “We must act swiftly to save as many lives as we can. This is an emergency.”
California set a new, bleak record for new coronavirus cases and Covid-19 hospitalizations Friday, reporting more than 22,000 confirmed new infections. Almost 10,000 people are hospitalized, and more than 2,200 of them are in ICUs.
Under the Bay Area order — which mirrors the state’s stay-at-home order — retail businesses can remain open but must operate at 20% capacity, and will be required to write and enforce plans to ensure patrons wear face coverings and maximum capacity rules are followed.
Restaurants must close outdoor operations and convert to takeout and delivery only.
Some business will be required to close, including bars, wineries, movie theaters and personal services like hair salons and nail cutting services, officials said.
“We cannot wait until after we have driven off the cliff to pull the emergency brake,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “We understand that the closures under the State order will have a profound impact on our local businesses. However, if we act quickly, we can both save lives and reduce the amount of time these restrictions have to stay in place, allowing businesses and activities to reopen sooner.”