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COVID Restrictions: Sonoma County Officials Opt Against Early Shutdown Order

PETALUMA (KPIX 5) -- While much of the Bay Area is already under a COVID-19 stay-at-home order, some counties have chosen to follow looser restrictions. In Sonoma County, business owners are relieved they won't have to close just yet.

Sonoma County health officials are watching the number of ICU beds available in the county. As of Tuesday, they still have 25% capacity available, 10% more than state minimums.

Even though five Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley instituted the state's stay-at-home restrictions before reaching the 15% threshold, Sonoma County is holding off.

"Our numbers, while escalating right now to some degree -- and we are watching them very carefully -- they are not to the point yet where we think that we need to voluntarily go into that position that the other five counties and the city of Berkeley have already done," said Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt.

Petaluma residents say they are serious about staying safe amid the COVID case spike. Outdoor dining will continue here at Cucina Paradiso with tables spaced more than six feet apart and mask wearing encouraged between courses. Owner and Chef Dennis Hernandez is relieved.

"Thanks to the Lord, because we need to be open. The patio, this is the way we are making it right now," said Hernandez.

Two diners who were eating outside and staying more than six feet away from the other customers. One of them, named Jerry Grogan, admitted he was not so sure about the decision to keep county businesses open.

"Well, I think they should have shut down actually, just in unity with the other counties," said Grogan.

His friend Larry King disagreed.

"I support the county's decision," King said. "I think when the numbers get to where we need to shut down, we should shut down. But in the meantime, these small business need to survive."

Boulevard Barber owner Sara Sass said she maintains strict safe practices.

"Great news! It's a great relief!" she said about being able to stay open. "We feel very, very fortunate!"

Supervisor Rabbitt allowed that the situation could change soon.

"We trust our health officer here in the county. She has the complete support of the board," said Rabbitt. "She is not ready to call that yet. When she is, the board will support her."

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