Santa Clara County health officials announced Thursday that indoor dining and other currently prohibited activities could resume as soon as this Wednesday, March 3, following a decline in new COVID-19 cases and rising vaccination rates.
The rollback of public health restrictions would allow numerous activities — ranging from gyms and fitness centers to indoor dining at restaurants — to return under the state's "red tier." The county has been stuck in the more restrictive purple tier since mid-November, following a staggering increase in cases that lasted through the holidays.
The number of newly reported COVID-19 cases in the county has dropped significantly in the last month, with a seven-day rolling average ending Feb. 17 of 231 new cases reported daily. Coupled with high vaccination rates, and the county is now poised to return to the red tier on Wednesday, county Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said.
"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 in a statement.
County health officials are also relaxing public health restrictions related to youth sports and other outdoor activities, with new rules set to go into effect on Friday, Feb. 26. The new rules, based on state guidelines, allow for outdoor, low-contact sports including biking, badminton, golf and tennis.
Indoor sports will remain prohibited as of Friday, and will likely stay off-limits even after the state switches the county from the purple tier to the red tier. Sports allowed in the red tier include baseball, cheerleading, dodgeball, softball and volleyball.
Rules related to outdoor gatherings have also been relaxed, though Cody is still advising that anyone participating in an outdoor gathering should wear a mask when coming within 6 feet of others. Indoor gatherings remain prohibited.