Public Health tightens restrictions on indoor environments prone to transmission

County of Marin logoWith COVID-19 transmission and hospitalizations on the rise across the region, Bay Area health officers are tightening local rules for higher-risk indoor activities where the virus can spread more easily.

In Marin County, case rates have nearly doubled in the past 10 days and continue to rise, prompting Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis to issue an order to tighten restrictions to limit further spread of the virus. Under the order, the following industries should reduce operations to match “red” Tier 2 allowances within the State of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy[External], effective Tuesday, November 17:

  • Retail / malls – reduce capacity to 50%
  • Office work spaces – work remotely
  • Libraries – reduce capacity to 50%
  • Museums – reduce capacity to 25%
  • Places of worship – reduce capacity to 25% or 100 people (whichever is fewer)
  • Gyms and fitness centers – reduce capacity to 10%
  • Wineries – operate outdoor only
  • Family entertainment centers – operate outdoor only
  • Cardrooms – operate outdoor only
  • Indoor pools – close
  • Bars and breweries (with no meal option) – close

In addition, the county will be joining counties across the region to close all indoor dining operations, including:

  • Indoor dining at restaurants
  • Indoor movie theater concessions
  • Indoor food courts

Marin businesses shall operate in strict compliance with the state’s guidance for the red tier[External]. Marin joins other Bay Area counties in tightening restrictions for indoor environments and follows San Francisco move to ban indoor dining earlier this week. The new, formalized restrictions come after Willis recommended tightening up indoor capacity at Tuesday’s Board of supervisor’s meeting[External].

“We’re choosing to move into the red tier before the state moves us to get in front of this surge,” Willis said. “We’re seeing more people getting sick with COVID-19 and needing hospitalization. With flu season and potential impacts from holiday gatherings and travel, it’s time to act to prevent a much larger surge.”

If Marin’s average daily case rate continues its current momentum, projections show Marin could return to purple Tier 1 status as early as November 24.

A chart showing a surge in COVID-19 cases in Marin County.COVID-19 statistics from Marin County Public Health as of November 13, 2020.

In late August, Marin was placed in Tier 1 when the Blueprint for a Safer Economy scale was introduced. It was moved to red Tier 2 in mid-September and orange Tier 3 in late October. Businesses, schools, offices and other agencies must adhere to the state-mandated guidelines by taking precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

“As COVID-19 rates increase, indoor environments where facial covering is not used, like restaurants, become less safe because there’s a higher probability that you’re sharing the space with someone who is infected,” Willis said. “This isn’t limited to the business environment but applies to holiday gatherings and travel as well.”

Marin and Bay Area jurisdictions, in addition to the State of California[External], have issued recommendations for holiday travel and gatherings. Holiday travel is considered non-essential and should be avoided. Gatherings should be kept small, short, and outside to the extent possible. Marin County Public Health’s guidance for holiday travel and gatherings, in addition a list of safe alternatives for holiday celebrations, can be found at Marin County Public Health urges residents to play it safe during holiday travel and gatherings, and doctors said strong consideration should be given to COVID-19 testing as well.