Bay Area counties impose stay-at-home order earlier than required

 Five Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley are imposing new closures on outdoor businesses and activities even though the region has not yet hit the threshold laid out yesterday in Gov. Newsom's new stay-at-home order.

Outdoor dining, bars, salons and more businesses and gathering places like playgrounds must close as early as Sunday in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, as well as Berkeley, health officials said Friday. 

“I don’t want to do any of this. I know this means people's jobs, their businesses, their livelihoods, are at stake,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said. “This is going to be painful. We need to fight for any relief we can get through the federal government.”

Such closures are not mandatory under Newsom's rule before intensive care units fall below 15% capacity for the region. The Bay Area region's ICUs were at 25% capacity on Friday.

"I don't think we can wait," said Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Christopher Farnitano.

The order will remain in effect until at least January 4.

The timing varies slightly when the counties will implement the order. It goes into effect on Sunday for Contra Costa, San Francisco and Santa Clara. In Alameda, the change kicks in on Monday. Marin will adopt the rules on Tuesday.

Berkeley public health officer, Dr. Lisa Hernandez, put it in stark terms: "If you have a social bubble, it is now popped."

“Until we get through this wave, you should not meet in person with anyone you do not live with, even in a small group and even outdoors," Hernandez warned. 

San Mateo County, absent from the list of five Bay Area counties, said they would continue to follow the state's existing guidelines. County health officials said like the rest of the region, they are experiencing a rise in cases, particularly among young adults. 

They added that transmission is substantially driven by indoor social gatherings and from insufficient face covering. San Mateo County health officials said they will work with other Bay Area counties on hospital capacity and facilitate availability. 

From a business standpoint, the elimination of outdoor seating comes as a major blow. In San Jose at Good Karma Café and Pizza Flora, owner Ryan Summers said many small businesses won't survive this. 

"Every time they come out and give us another order our numbers just crumble. It's really important for everybody to try and support their local small business right now," Summers said. "It hurts. It hurts hard. It cuts deep." 

Friday's joint-announcement came a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new rules that take effect Saturday, designed to keep local health systems from collapsing under the weight of skyrocketing COVID-19 caseloads. Previous restrictions were based on infection rates in counties.

The new order divides the state into five broad regions and restricts those with intensive care unit bed capacity below 15%. The Bay Area region covers the counties mentioned above, plus Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma.

It's expected that this grouping of counties will hit the 15% threshold by mid- to late-Decemeber. 

When that happens, the state says the region must close hair salons, barber shops and movie theaters, ban restaurant service except for takeout and delivery, shutter playgrounds, and limit retail stores and shopping centers to 20% customer capacity.

Under the state's rules, the stay-at-home order will last at least three weeks, cutting sharply into the most profitable shopping season and threatening financial ruin for businesses already struggling after 10 months of on-again, off-again restrictions and slow sales because of the pandemic.

After California closed all but essential businesses in March, the state lost 2.6 million jobs in two months. About 44% of those jobs returned when restrictions were eased as people heeded social distancing and mask-wearing precautions and new cases fell dramatically.

But by fall people were congregating more for holidays and celebrations, while cooler weather drove them inside, where the virus flourishes. Friday's announcement comes the same day the state recorded another daily record number of cases, with 22,018, and hospitalizations topped 9,000 for first time.

KTVU's Ann Rubin and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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