Amid COVID-19 surge, Santa Clara County introduces stricter rules

A spike in COVID-19 cases has prompted health officials in Santa Clara County to enact new mandatory health directives.

The changes will reduce the amount of activity indoors, and will even have an impact on professional sports, like 49ers games.

County officials reported 760 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, a record surpassing previous records by more than 200.

Hospitalizations have also doubled in two weeks.

The new restrictions will broadly impact businesses and the public at large.

Health officials say 239 new people are currently in the hospital because of COVID-19, 71 of them in ICU, where capacity is dwindling. 

County Health Officer, Dr. Sara Cody, says in order to protect a vulnerable health care system and the public, it’s painful but necessary to impose harsher restrictions.

To put on the brakes, new restrictions will reduce the numbers of people inside stores and public facilities, which will be limited to 10% of capacity.

 Drug and grocery stores will remain at 25% to ensure adequate access to food and medicine.

“All facilities open to the public must establish a metering system to ensure the capacity limits are not exceeded,” said James Williams, County Counsel for Santa Clara County.

In addition, all sports requiring contact or close proximity will be prohibited, including professional football, which will impact three upcoming 49ers home games at Levi’s Stadium.

“It’s kind of messed up but we gotta do what we have to do to cut the COVID down and stuff.  Too many people are going to the hospital,” said Michael Stevens.

Another change, travel beyond 150 miles from the county will require a 14-day quarantine upon return, with exemptions for health care workers and those seeking medical treatment.

Outdoor activities will still be allowed, but limited to no more than 100 people.

“These are extraordinarily, extraordinarily painful and difficult decisions, but it is a matter of life and death. We must slow this train or it will derail,” said Cody.

A local restaurant manager says, based on observation, she’s not optimistic new restrictions will help.

“I don’t see it clearing up anytime soon.  People are still going out, having parties, Thanksgiving was just the other day and the amount of people I saw with all of their families on Snapchat was just ridiculous,” said Jasmine Williams.

Four Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley have come out in support of Santa Clara County’s new measures.

The new restrictions go into effect Monday and will run at least through Dec. 21.