Four counties opt out of Bay Area shutdown

With the Bay Area's new lockdown order, thousands of struggling businesses will now essentially shut down at the busiest and most profitable time of year.

"We're very busy, holiday busy, so now what do we do?" posed Cindy Rome, owner of Avenue Salon in downtown Novato.

Friday afternoon, her phone lit up with clients clamoring to get appointments.

"We're trying to squeeze as many people in as we can before we have to shut down on Tuesday," said Rome.

She opposes the new lockdown, not only because of lost business, but because she thinks it puts COVID-19 blame in the wrong places.

"I can pretty much guarantee it's not hair salons or little boutiques or things like that," said Rome, noting the surges didn't start until after Halloween, and then worsened after Thanksgiving.

"It's the socializing outside of the businesses that is creating this and I feel like we are being punished for other people's actions and it hurts," said Rome. 

Twenty minutes to the north, no rollback.

Sonoma County businesses will keep the status quo, as fragile as it may be.

"We're just trying to weigh the numbers, the data, and make that right decision," said Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt, speaking in downtown Petaluma where outdoor dining was in full Friday night swing.

The counties of Sonoma, Napa, Solano and San Mateo opted to not join the stay-at-home order, at least for now.

"It's been an issue for us all year long, making sure we don't over-react," said Rabbitt.

"If we're going to have these rules and metrics, we need to follow and work with them and that's what we're trying to do."

Sonoma County - long in the purple tier - finally has Covid testing rates way up and positivity rates down.

On Friday, the Board of Supervisors discussed joining the five-county lockdown, but with 40% of ICU beds still open, followed Public Health guidance and declined. 

"I did ask today is there something in between? Is there a spot to land that has some restrictions but not the full restrictions the state is proposing?," said Rabbitt.

He admits county leaders don't want to crush the retail and restaurant community, but it's a fluid situation.

"We might be in a little better place in Sonoma County right now, but it doesn't mean next week we won't be somewhere worse."

Noon on Tuesday will be Marin County's deadline to halt or curtail many commercial endeavors.

"Winter has arrived and it's exactly what we thought it was going to be," said Adam Kovacs, owner of the Sonoma Fit Gym in Novato.

He dreads having to boot members back into outdoor classes for the month. 

"We have had 18,000 check-ins since we were allowed to open indoors and had not one Covid case linked back to us," said Kovacs.

Many enjoying indoor workouts agreed. 

"It's like starting all over again," said gym member Rich Azzolino, "and I don't know why they shut gyms down, every one I go to there's been no cases."

Kovacs believes businesses like gyms and salons are easy targets because private gatherings are so difficult to detect and prevent. 

"We have been locking down this state for the last 9 months and we have had 3 surges so obviously it's tied to other things like social gatherings."

Another gym member expressed willingness to shift his fitness routine outdoors.  

"I want everybody to be safe," said Marty Smith of Novato. "It might be a little cold, but that's why we have sweatshirts."

Kovacs notes, unlike the first lockdown there is no federal aid in the pipeline to help businesses or their employees.

But he's trying to remain optimistic.

"It's the holiday season, let's get through this, in 3 to 4 weeks it will get better, the vaccine's coming, let's get to 2021 ASAP!"

Debora Villalon is a reporter for KTVU. Email Debora at and follow her on Twitter @DeboraKTVU.