Update, Dec. 10: Berkeley has its own health department, which is aligning with the county’s rules. The latest city health order is available here and a list of what’s open in the city is available here. Update, Dec. 7: Alameda County health officials have updated the orders to reopen playgrounds and increase grocery story capacity to 35%, instead of 20%. The changes also allow outdoor seasonal markets, pet grooming and golf. Read the full county rules here.
Original Story: If you have a social bubble, it’s now “popped” — gatherings with people outside your household are no longer allowed in the Bay Area starting starting after this weekend.
With more than 1,000 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Bay Area, and a quadrupling of cases in the last month, Berkeley’s Dr. Lisa Hernandez and five local health officers announced Friday that they will implement the state’s stricter shelter-at-home guidelines immediately, instead of waiting for ICU capacity to drop below 15%.
In Alameda County and Berkeley, the order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 7 (given the existing state curfew that limits non-essential activities between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. nightly) until Jan. 4, 2021.
The full local restrictions mirror the state’s shelter-at-home rules, and are outlined here. Here’s what that means:
- No gatherings with people outside of your household
- Bars, wineries, personal care services like hair salons and barbershops and playgrounds, will be closed
- Retail at 20% capacity and restaurants for takeout and delivery only, no outdoor dining
- Critical infrastructure can remain open indoors
Schools that have already opened will be allowed to remain open, and sports will continue at Cal, according to Berkeley Public Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez. Nearby, in Santa Clara County, contact sports are banned across all levels.
Dr. Sarah Cody, Santa Clara County health officer, said the hospitalization surge has struck the county before other regions in the Bay Area, as it was at the beginning of the pandemic. The average percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations has tripled in the last month, with a record-breaking 67 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals on Thursday, Cody said.
“That’s an all-time record, and, unfortunately, we are shattering records every day,” she said, warning that the same is due to happen in nearby counties soon.
Santa Clara County has also met the state’s standard already, with 14% non-surge ICU bed capacity remaining. In Alameda County, that number is at 33%, but Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said mutual aid between counties in the Bay Area and beyond means that number is lower than it appears.
“Alameda County is not an island…none of us are. When our neighbors run out of hospital beds, patients will have to come to our hospitals,” Moss said. “We have fewer beds than we think, because we will be asked to help, and we will help.”
Dr. Tomás Aragón, San Francisco health officer, also noted that for every six cases that are recorded, there are another six to 10 cases that are not — with each person going on to infect about 1.5 others.
With a dark winter looming, even with positive news surrounding vaccine deployment, Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez recommended the strictest rules since the beginning of the pandemic. She said not to have small gatherings inside or outside with people not in your household, continue wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing in public.
The city has not issued any citations yet, Hernandez added, but has the ability to issue fines of $100 for violating mask orders.