With the Covid-19 vaccine making its way through the local population and case rates and hospitalizations declining, Santa Clara County officials expect the state to loosen its public gathering guidelines by next week.

And on Feb. 25, Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody announced a number of changes to existing local health directives, including fewer restrictions on outdoor gatherings. The changes are effective Friday, Feb. 26. 

The changes made this week are intended to reduce the number of business sectors and activities that are subject to overlapping requirements from the county and state, county public health officials said in a press release.

“With vaccinations now reaching more broadly into the community, including over half of those age 65 and older, we are making significant progress in protecting our most vulnerable community members,” Cody said. “As things improve, it is still important for everyone to continue to practice basic prevention measures: face coverings, social distancing, and doing as much activity as possible outdoors.”

The county also announced on Feb. 25 that it will make “significant changes” to existing local health directives as soon as the Bay Area enters the state’s Red Tier, indicating a lower risk level than the region’s current Purple Tier. County public health officials think Santa Clara and surrounding counties could enter the Red Tier by March 3.

Changes to local and state guidelines under the Red Tier could include allowing indoor dining and other indoor gatherings to resume in accordance with capacity limits and safety protocols, the press release says.

Local and state health directives in Santa Clara County currently prohibit many types of indoor business and gatherings, including dining. The directives also impose capacity limits on indoor retail.

The below revisions to the local directive, effective Feb. 26, are from the county’s press release:  

-The County’s Mandatory Directive for Youth and Adult Recreational Athletic Activities will no longer be in effect. These activities remain subject to the State’s Guidance on Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Recreational Adult Sports and the County’s updated Mandatory Directive for Gatherings.

-The County’s Mandatory Directive for Programs Serving Children and Youth will no longer be in effect. These activities remain subject to all applicable State guidance (which may include the State’s guidance on Day Camps, Fitness Facilities, Child Care Programs and Providers, and/or Cohorts).

-The County’s Mandatory Directive for Schools has been converted to operational guidance to augment the requirements put in place by the State. Schools remain subject to the State’s Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools and are also encouraged to follow the County’s Guidance for Schools.

-The Health Officer has issued a new Mandatory Directive for Case Reporting by K-12 Schools, Youth Athletic Programs, and Other Youth Programs. This new directive preserves the requirement that any program with one or more youth participants to report immediately to the County Public Health Department if any program participant tests positive for COVID-19.

-The rules for outdoor gatherings in the Mandatory Directive for Gatherings have been relaxed in light of declining case rates and because outdoor activities have a lower risk of spread than indoor activities.

-The Health Officer still strongly recommends that everyone wear a face covering at all times at outdoor gatherings, but face coverings are required outdoors only if within 6 feet of someone who is not a member of your household.

-The Health Officer still strongly recommends that everyone maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from anyone who is not a member of their household at outdoor gatherings, but it is not required.

-People are allowed to sing at outdoor gatherings without a face covering, provided that they stay at least 6 feet away from everyone who is not a member of their household.

-Indoor gatherings of any kind remain prohibited, until the county enters the State’s Red Tier.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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