.Santa Cruz County Officials Weigh Preemptive Stay-at-Home Order

Santa Cruz County officials are expected to discuss on Tuesday whether the county will join five other Bay Area counties in preemptively adhering to the regional stay-at-home order recently issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Although the item is not agendized for the Tuesday, Dec. 8, Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Zach Friend said the board would likely study the item during closed session.

“We could make a decision tomorrow or we could not,” he said. “Saying that we’re going to announce something would be premature.”

Santa Cruz County spokesman Jason Hoppin said County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel has not made a decision as to whether the county will join San Francisco, Santa Clara, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties in closing before the region’s projected trigger date of Dec. 14.

The county could adopt the order as is, or, Hoppin said, it could decide to adopt an alternative order that would allow some outdoor services such as outdoor dining and outdoor playgrounds to remain open until the region eventually closes.

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It could also do nothing, and wait until the region, which includes Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, is forced to close by state health officials.

The order comes with more stringent restrictions for businesses amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Outdoor dining and other services will be forbidden, and retail businesses will be reduced to 20% capacity.

The state implemented the restrictions, Newsom said, because Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed capacity was falling across the state as more Californians were testing positive for Covid-19 than in recent weeks.

The state on Monday reported more than 24,000 new cases, and 59 new deaths. The day prior, there were a record 30,075 new cases.

There have been roughly 1.3 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in California. ICU bed capacity in the Bay Area region, which also includes Solano, San Mateo and Sonoma counties, was at 25.7% on Monday.

In Santa Cruz County, the death toll jumped by seven fatalities to 44 on Monday. There have been 5,130 cases of Covid-19 in the county, including 1,176 active cases. Nearly 50 people were hospitalized Sunday with Covid-19, according to numbers reported by the state. Seven people were in the ICU Sunday, and there were six beds available.

In a prepared statement, San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow said that the county would not adopt the order early because he did not believe it would help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and that “the new State framework is rife with inexplicable inconsistencies of logic.”

“I certainly understand reasonable people trying different approaches to the unimaginable dilemmas that face us,” he said. “And I have no intent to fault the State on their impossible task. They have an even more complex task than do the locals. But I’m not managing the State. I’m trying to make the best public health decisions for all of you.”

What does the order mean?

The following sectors will have modifications in addition to masking and physical distancing:

  • Outdoor recreational facilities: Allow outdoor operation only for the purpose of facilitating physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise, without any food, drink or alcohol sales. Additionally, overnight stays at campgrounds will not be permitted.
  • Retail: Allow indoor operation at 20% capacity, and 35% of capacity for standalone grocery stores, with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems. 
  • Shopping centers: Allow indoor access at 20% capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
  • Hotels and lodging: Allow for Covid-19 mitigation and containment measures, treatment measures, provide accommodation for essential workers, or providing housing solutions, including measures to protect homeless populations.
  • Restaurants: Allow only for take out or delivery.
  • Offices: Allow remote only except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible. 
  • Places of worship and political expression: Allow outdoor activities only.
  • Entertainment production: Industries, studios, and other related establishments such as establishments that provide content for professional broadcast can operate without live audiences.

The regional order will force the following sectors to close (except to the extent that their operations fall within critical infrastructure):

  • Indoor and outdoor playgrounds
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Personal care services
  • Museums, zoos, and aquariums
  • Movie theaters (except drive-in)
  • Wineries, bars, breweries, and distilleries
  • Family entertainment centers
  • Cardrooms and satellite wagering
  • Limited services
  • Live audience sports
  • Amusement parks


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Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.
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