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COVID: Contra Costa County Suspends Indoor Dining, Movie Concessions, Indoor Gyms Over Surging Cases - 'We Must Act Now'

MARTINEZ (CBS SF) – Health officials in Contra Costa County on Friday  announced that indoor dining, movie concession stands and indoor fitness centers will suspend operations next week as COVID-19 cases rise in the Bay Area, the state and across the country.

Contra Costa Health Services announced the above businesses are being ordered to close as of Tuesday, November 17 at 8 a.m.

"Indoor interactions at restaurants, movie theaters, and indoor gyms and fitness centers are high-risk activities," county health officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said in a statement on Friday. "And given what we're seeing happen across the country and the region, we must act now."

READ MORE: COVID Roundup: Thanksgiving Gathering Fears Mount; Cal Football Still In Limbo; State Reaches Grim Milestone

Indoor dining and gyms reopened with limited capacities when the county entered the Red Tier in late September. The county reached the less-restrictive Orange Tier in late October allowing for expanded capacities, but a rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations forced the county back into the Red Tier earlier this week.

Due to the county re-entering the Red Tier, as of Friday retail stores that operate indoors must scale back their maximum occupancy to 50 percent or 100 people, whichever is lower. Meanwhile, indoor shopping malls must reduce their occupancy and reduce the occupancy of food courts to 25 percent or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Office workspaces must operate remotely.

Farnitano said that 50 people in the county were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, the highest number since September.

County health officials said they are particularly worried about cases going up even further if people gather indoors for the holidays, which could move the county into the Purple Tier, which is the most restrictive.

The health officer reiterated the importance of following health guidelines, including the use of masks.

"I've said this many times before, but it's so important I can't repeat it enough: The best way to protect against COVID-19 is to wear a face-covering whenever you are near people who do not live with you, and whenever you go in a building that is not your home," Farnitano concluded.

Also on Friday, health officials in Santa Clara and Marin counties announced the suspension of indoor dining and other restrictions in anticipation of being moved back into the Red Tier, possibly as soon as next week.

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