Santa Clara, Alameda counties reach ‘orange’ coronavirus tier: Here’s when indoor dining could resume

SAN JOSE — South Bay restaurants could start serving diners indoors and movie theaters could welcome back limited audiences this week after Santa Clara County advanced to a looser tier of coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday.

Alameda County will move more slowly to reopen those businesses, but it too has now graduated to the “orange” tier of the state’s COVID reopening plan, which indicates spread of the deadly illness in the county is at “moderate” levels.

State authorities on Tuesday also issued new guidance for how to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus during Halloween — an attempt to blunt the potential surge of new cases that many fear could emerge if people gather in large numbers for holidays through the end of the year.

Locally, though, health leaders were balancing those warnings with praise, saying the sacrifices of disciplined residents were paying off through lower transmission rates and looser restrictions.

“Today is really great news for everyone who lives and works in this county, and all of the collective work that everyone has done to move us into the orange tier,” Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Sara Cody said Tuesday. “We were a bit stricter for a bit longer than other jurisdictions … and now that is paying off.”

According to Cody, the rates of new cases in the county has slowly but steadily fallen from their summer peak. At 1.7 percent, the share of coronavirus tests that come back positive in Santa Clara County over a seven-day average Tuesday is half that of the state as a whole, which is 3.4 percent. It’s even lower in Alameda County, at 1.5 percent.

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An updated Santa Clara County health order allows for outdoor gatherings of up to 200 people, and indoor gatherings — at places such as restaurants, houses of worship and movie theaters — at 25 percent of a building’s capacity or 100 total people, whichever is fewer, starting Wednesday. The new policies in the county also allow its two college football programs, Stanford and San Jose State, to resume on-campus practices. Stanford had been practicing at a San Mateo County high school, while the Spartans decamped to Humboldt State University near Eureka as they got ready for their conferences’ delayed college football season.

Still, in another example of the tricky calculations local authorities, businesses and everyday citizens have been forced to make in the midst of a still-raging pandemic, Cody and others added a warning: Just because you’re allowed to do something new, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Health officials strongly discouraged people who could be at higher risk from coronavirus, or who live with someone who is, from taking part in activities like indoor dining — something San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties have all resumed in recent weeks. Indoor meals represent “a very high-risk environment,” said James Williams, Santa Clara’s county counsel, because they involve sharing space with others without the ventilation of an outdoor patio and removing your face covering to eat and drink.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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