SANTA ROSA, CA – The California Department of Public Health today lifted the Regional Stay-Home Order for the 11-county Bay Area region, including Sonoma County, effective immediately. However, many counties, including Sonoma County, will remain in the purple tier under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, meaning many restrictions will remain in place.
The lifting of the order means Sonoma County’s restaurants will be able to resume outdoor dining, some businesses, such as hair salons and barbershops, will be able to resume limited indoor service and residents will have more freedom to engage in activities outside the home.
“This is great news for Sonoma County residents and business owners,” said Lynda Hopkins, Chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “This means that we can begin to reopen parts of our economy a little more in hopes that the worst of this latest surge is over. But we still have a long way to go and we still need to be diligent in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.”
Due to rapidly rising case rates and hospitalizations locally, Sonoma County proactively joined six other Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley in adopting the Stay-Home Order, which took effect on Dec. 12, five days before a Stay-Home order went into effect for the entire Bay Area region.
Under the order, residents were directed to stay at home except for work, shopping or other essential activities, such as medical appointments. Hotels, vacation rentals and other lodging also were allowed to offer accommodations only for those coming to the area for essential work or for COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures. The Stay-Home order was to remain in effect until four-week projections for ICU capacity reached or exceeded 15 percent.
As of Saturday, the state reported the Bay Area ICU capacity at 23.4 percent, the first time it had been above 15 percent since the Stay Home order took effect. The state did not provide a four-week ICU projection before announcing that the order had been lifted for the Bay Area as well as two other regions in the state - Southern California and San Joaquin Valley. The Greater Sacramento Area exited the Stay-Home order on Jan. 12. A Stay Home order was never activated for a fifth region, one located deeper in Northern California.
Although the order has been lifted, Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s Health Officer, noted that case rates and positivity rates remain high in Sonoma County, which is why the county remains in the most restrictive purple tier.
“Sonoma County residents heard the urgent message to stay home as much as possible and accepted that challenge to slow the surge and save lives,” Mase said. “Together, we changed our activities knowing our short-term sacrifices would lead to longer-term gains. But COVID-19 is still here and still deadly, so we must remain vigilant and take all necessary mitigation measures until the vaccine is distributed widely.”
Under the purple tier, outdoor gatherings are permitted with up to three households and personal care businesses can open with modifications. The following are permitted to operate only outdoors with modifications:
- Movie theaters
- Family entertainment centers
- Museums, zoos, and aquariums
- Places of worship
Sonoma County’s new cases per day per 100,000 residents is 41.4. That number must drop below 7 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in order for the County to move into the next tier for “substantial” COVID spread. The testing positivity rate was 9.6 percent and needs to be less than 8 percent to move to the next tier. And the testing positivity in the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index, a metric that measures equity in the COVID response, was 15.9 percent and needs to be less than 8 percent to move to the next tier.