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New Ban on Mass Gatherings In Effect in Sonoma County

SONOMA (CBS SF) -- In Sonoma County this weekend falls under a new ban on mass gatherings, and a request that people stay home. It's just another discouraging setback for an area that depends on visitors.

"My first thought was that I wasn't gonna worry too much, because I read through and I saw it wasn't going to affect the restaurants," says Sam Morphy, owner of The Red Grape. "The big blow was when the recommendation was to just stay home."

The Red Grape was celebrating its 20th birthday today. Morphy says he wouldn't have survived the last two years without a lot of curbside takeout, and he's already doing more of that after the health order issued Monday.

"It's always a bad time when they tell people to stay home," he says.

"Yeah it's definitely a here we go again kind of feeling," says Mark Bodenhamer with the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce.

At the Chamber offices, boxes of wine have been replaced by boxes of masks.

"So we have some N95s. And we have a second shipment of KN95s and hand sanitizer that the state department of emergency services sent to us," Bodenhamer says, pointing at the stockpile.

The Chamber says the real frustration is that the announcement was so sudden - especially for groups hosting large events.

"These things, it would be really nice if we got even just a week's notice that a shutdown, or restrictions were coming," Bodenhamer says.

January is already a slow month here. The hope is that when the order expires, some normalcy won't be far behind.

"So we are kind of content to ride this out," Bodenhamer explains. "We're really hoping by spring we're ready to get back to business."

"This does seem, the Omicron, seems like it's going to be gone quickly," Morphy hopes. "We just hope there's nothing behind it. We look forward to a good spring summer, and of course a good summer. We just hope nothing takes that away from us."

Like restaurants, the health order does not apply to workplaces, malls or schools. It lasts until February 11th.

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