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COVID Surge: Sonoma County To Join Stay-At-Home Order On Saturday - 'We Have To Take Action Now'

SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) – Sonoma County officials announced Thursday that it would join other Bay Area counties in implementing a stay-at-home order due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, effective Saturday.

Residents are being urged to stay at home except for work, shopping or essential activities. Schools that are already open can continue to operate. Outdoor recreation would be allowed and playgrounds would stay open.

Five Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara) and the city of Berkeley instituted the state's stay-at-home restrictions before reaching the 15% ICU capacity threshold.

Officials said the restrictions would stay in place until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, January 9, 2021.

Sonoma Health officer Dr. Sundari Mase said that the county has seen an "alarming increase" in recent days of new cases and hospitalizations. Mase said the number of cases in the county has doubled in recent days and the 14-day average has reached 343 cases per 100,000, the highest point in the pandemic.

The health officer also noted that infections are more widespread in the county and that hospitalizations are nearing records.

"Given that, we feel we have no choice but to join the other Bay Area counties in preemptively adopting the governor's Stay-Home order, which is already in effect for most of the state. We have to take action now," Mase said.

Under the stay-at-home order, indoor retail can stay open at 20% capacity, while standalone grocery stores are allowed to have up to 35% capacity. Houses of worship can hold outdoor services, while restaurants can offer takeout or delivery.

Sectors being ordered to close both indoor and outdoor operations include hair salons, barbershops, personal care services, movie theaters (except for drive-ins), family entertainment centers, museums, zoos and aquariums.

Bars, wineries, breweries and distilleries are also being ordered to close, except for operations related to production, manufacturing, distribution and retail for off-site consumption.

Hotels, vacation rentals and other lodging is only allowed for those coming to the area for essential work or for COVID-19 mitigation. Outdoor campgrounds will also be closed.

On Wednesday, Monterey County announced it would be joining other Bay Area counties in implementing the state's regional order before it is required in an effort to preserve critical hospital bed capacity and curb the spread of COVID-19. Monterey County health officials said the county would adopt the restrictions starting Sunday, Dec. 13 at 10 p.m.

Earlier week, Sonoma County health officials had decided against joining the group of Bay Area counties that entered into the state's stay-at-home restrictions early.

"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 on Tuesday.

Two days ago Supervisor Rabbitt also 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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