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COVID-19: Marin County Tells Restaurants, Other Businesses To Reduce Indoor Capacity Amid Rising Cases

NOVATO (KPIX 5) -- Marin County said it's seen a spike of cases and the Public Health Director is hoping the community will take steps before possibly slipping back into the more-restrictive Red Tier under the state's reopening plan.

Restaurants just started being able to fill half of their dining rooms at the end of October but it only lasted just about two weeks. The Public Health Officer is recommending restaurants scale back to 25% again.

As soon as the recommendation came down from the county, Trek Winery in downtown Novato reduced its indoor dining to 25% capacity.

Michael Podshadley, the winery's general manager, told KPIX 5, "It's definitely a large setback, very unfortunate. These last six months have been difficult for every small business."

This comes as Marin County has seen a rise in COVID cases. Marin was just averaging nine new cases a day at the end of October. In the last four days, those numbers have increased into double-digits, with a high of 24 new cases coming earlier this week.

Marin County Indoor Dining
Indoor dining at a restaurant in Marin County in November 2020. (CBS)

County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis presented the Board of Supervisors with these numbers. Willis said indoor gatherings are mostly to blame, and the virus is now infecting a different segment of the population.

"What it shows is for the first time since the beginning, really since April, where we've had more cases reported among White residents than Latinx residents over the past week," Willis said.

Health officials additionally recommended the following changes for industries and activities labeled higher risk for virus transmission:

  • reduce indoor movie theater capacity from 50% to 25% and close concessions; and
  • reduce capacity of indoor faith-based and cultural ceremonies from 50% to 25%.

At Trek Winery, they have made changes to the space so they can accommodate more customers safely. They have opened up their wine and beer production rooms to generate a little more business through these tough times.

Podshadley added, "I think we're going to be able to weather the storm. It's going to be a hard few months but, hopefully we're going to make it through."

Willis said it's a recommendation for now to try to get ahead of the spike so the county doesn't fall back into the Red Tier. If the numbers continue to increase, the health officer said it will become a mandatory order next Tuesday.

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