Will the greater Bay Area ban gatherings like Sonoma?

Enforcing such restrictions on activities that marked the early months of the pandemic, Sonoma County will reduce the dangerous spread of COVID-19 from the super-contagious Omicron version of large gatherings — indoors and outdoors — beginning Wednesday. Trying to get banned.

For now, health officials in other Bay Area counties say they have no plans to follow suit, even though their virus transmission rates are worse than Sonoma County in many cases. But nowhere else are more restrictions completely off the table.

“There’s such a rapid change. The numbers are increasing rapidly,” said Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith. “I wouldn’t be surprised if something comes up next week or so.”

Sonoma County count Begins at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday and will remain in effect until February 11. It prohibits gatherings of 50 or more people indoors and gatherings of 100 or more people, as well as gatherings of 12 or more people considered at high risk for serious COVID-19 disease. ,

It does not apply to regular school instruction or outdoor leisure, work attendance, courthouses, places of worship, cafeterias, shopping malls, stores, restaurants and museums.

But it applies to any other public or private event that brings people together in the same room or space, including an auditorium, gymnasium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall or wedding venue, whether Whether they include fixed seating area or not. Ticket and gate entry restricted. Already planned events must be postponed or canceled during the period of the order.

Like every Bay Area county, Sonoma is experiencing its highest COVID-19 case rate, with a 7-day daily average topping 165 cases per 100,000 people. By comparison, the county saw a rate of 58 per 100,000 during the peak of last winter.

But the picture is even worse in other Bay Area counties: Santa Clara, Alameda, and San Francisco counties have 7-day average case rates of more than 180 per 100,000, and still higher in the state’s largest city, Los Angeles, where Los Angeles is located. Angeles County now reports the state’s highest rate of 285 per 100,000 people. Across the state, the current case rate of 198 was last winter’s peak of 112. Nearly 100,000 new infections were recorded every day last week, bringing California’s total cases to more than 6 million on Tuesday. Less than three weeks ago, the state was above 5 million.

In his decision to limit public gatherings, Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari R. Masse said the county’s rate of cases increased by nearly 400% in two weeks “and is predicted to increase.” Masse said the percentage of positive tests for the virus is “higher than at any point in the pandemic,” and the number of hospitalizations has more than doubled. He said half of the cases of known sources of infection in the past two weeks were linked to gatherings, most of which involved more than 12 people.

“Without mitigation efforts, state modeling projections suggest that the current surge has the potential to more than triple the number of persons hospitalized with COVID-19, which will impact local hospital beds and staff capacity, Messe said.

Health officials in San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties said Tuesday they are not planning any return to gathering restrictions.

“Given how widespread COVID-19 is, a similar order would be disruptive and would not significantly affect the trajectory of the pandemic in Alameda County at this time,” said Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss.

San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Phillip cited the city’s high vaccination rate and the relatively low incidence of serious illness seen among immunizations as justifications for holding off on the new restrictions for now.

“Of course, we will follow the data, especially around hospitalization,” Phillips said, urging people to “take extra precautions” while wearing high-quality face masks. “We do not intend to impose additional restrictions.”

Sonoma County’s new rule was already disrupting Tuesday’s events. Cinnabar Theater announced that it would be streaming its current production of Cyrano on January 21–23, and the opening of Amy and the Orphans has been pushed back from February 4 to February 11, with streaming for its live performances remaining an option. .

Diane Dragon, executive director of Cinnabar Theatre, said, “While we regret that we must do so, we look forward to surpassing this current boom.”

The Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa said it would postpone, reschedule or cancel 10 large-scale events scheduled through February 11, affecting 5,400 ticket holders. Events included a production of the game show The Price Is Right and a performance by Grammy nominated artist Beth Hart. The Bodega Chamber of Commerce also announced the cancellation of its Chowder Day, scheduled for January 28.

For Sonoma’s famed wine industry, the silver lining of the order is that it’s arriving in the off-season, before tastings and weddings kick into high gear.

“From my point of view and for our overall impact, it’s better for us to have less activity now, so when we come to spring, we’ll be fully open,” said Nick Caston, general manager of Harvest Moon Estate and Winery. Santa Rosa.

But that doesn’t mean it’s painless, said Henry Belmonte, owner of VJB Vineyards and Cellars, Wellington Cellars and Kenwood Farms and Ranch.

“This creates situations that become incredibly frustrating for individuals who have already booked an event,” he said. “For many business owners and our guests, it’s back and forth, one step forward and three steps back.”

Staff Writers Jason Green, Aldo Toledo, Annie Sinaka, Shomik Mukherjee, Harriet Rowan and Jackie Burrell contributed to this report.