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Reopenings: San Mateo County Shuts Down Indoor Sunday Church Services as COVID-19 Cases Surge

REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) -- Indoor Sunday religious services were banned at all San Mateo County churches Sunday as the county reinstituted COVID-19 business closures that also included shopping malls, indoor fitness centers and indoor beauty salons.

The county was added to the state's COVID-19 watchlist last week -- the last Bay Area holdout -- due to an increase in the rate of coronavirus cases.

As of Friday, San Mateo County has had 5,544 confirmed cases since the COVID-19 outbreak began in March. There have been 119 deaths -- 80 of those in nursing homes -- in the county with 60 residents currently hospitalized. Of those, 4 are under ICU treatment.

As a result state health officials ordered San Mateo County officials to begin rolling back reopenings at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. The following industries or activities must shut down, unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up:

  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Places of worship and cultural ceremonies, like weddings and funerals
  • Offices for non-critical infrastructure sectors
  • Personal care services, like nail salons and body waxing
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Shopping malls

It has been a roller coaster for many business owners, who say they're not sure they can survive this next shutdown.

Dylan, who opened his hair salon in Burlingame 13 years ago said his hope of staying open has come to a halt.

"I don't know how to deal with the open then shut down and reopen order," he said.

"This is really frustrating man," said Gem Bulutolo, who was walking with his children on Broadway Street in Burlingame. "A lot of people are gonna lose their jobs and it's not fair to them."

"It's clear that COVID-19 continues to spread in our community and in the Bay Area," said San Mateo County manager Mike Callagy. "It's vital that we all do everything we can - wearing face coverings, washing our hands, and avoiding gatherings - to slow and eventually stop the spread. These individual actions can make a huge difference."

"It disturbs me when I hear that the casinos are still open but my church is going to be closed. I hope this changes soon," said South San Francisco resident Sam Mosunic.

Even for those salons which can operate outdoors, many are doubtful it will work.

"It's very disheartening," said Eternal Glow owner Irene Gamache. "I own a salon. I'm an esthetician and that's my livelihood. My livelihood has been taken away from me."

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