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Bucking California's relaxed guidelines for large venues, Santa Clara County to keep stadiums, theme parks closed

State's decision to allow large venues to reopen is 'unconscionable,' county executive says

Audiences at professional sporting events such as San Francisco 49ers games, held locally at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, won't be allowed anytime soon in Santa Clara County, officials said Oct. 20. Photo by Naveen Venkatesan/Unsplash.

Professional sporting events will not be allowed to have audiences and theme parks will not resume operation anytime soon in Santa Clara County, despite the state's decision that allows them to reopen, county leaders said on Tuesday afternoon.

County leaders said they would not relax their restrictions on theme parks and sports venues for some time, citing the trajectory of rising COVID-19 cases throughout the nation and warnings by federal and state officials that this fall and winter could see a dramatic rise in infection rates.

"We want to make it clear that superspreader events will not be allowed within the county of Santa Clara," county Executive Jeff Smith said during a press conference in San Jose on Tuesday afternoon.

The California Department of Public Health released new guidance and made updates to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy related to COVID-19 on Tuesday at noon. Professional sporting events at outdoor stadiums and racetracks may resume outdoor operations if their county is in the "orange" tier (also known as Tier 3, indicating a moderate risk level) with capacity limited to 20% and in the "yellow" tier (also known as Tier 4, indicating a minimal risk for COVID-19) with capacity limited to 25%. Ticket sales must be limited to customers traveling within a 120-mile radius. The guidance applies only to professional sports. It doesn't apply to youth or adult recreational, amateur, semi-pro or collegiate sporting competitions, according to the state guidance.

"The changes in the state's guidelines regarding professional sports in our opinion is really quite dangerous," Smith said. "You just do the math. Twenty percent of the number of capacity at Levi's Stadium means just under 14,000 people could attend a football game there, and if you look around the county and around the region within 150 miles of this county there are areas and communities that have positivity rates of COVID that are in the 8% range. Ours in this county happens to be around 1%."

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He estimated that somewhere between 250 and 1,000 people out of the 14,000 who would attend a football game at Levi's Stadium would be infected.

"There is no question — this is dangerous. This is the worst thing to be doing at a time when California is beginning to see some light. This amounts to another step backwards," he said.

While the state is allowing theme parks such as California's Great America in Santa Clara to reopen under the "orange" tier, Santa Clara County has chosen to keep the venue closed for now. Photo by Stephen Yeargin obtained via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The state has also allowed theme parks with an overall capacity of less than 15,000 to resume limited operations if their county is in the "orange" tier of the state's blueprint for reopening with capacity limited to 25% or 500 people, whichever is fewer. The smaller parks may only open outdoor attractions, and ticket sales must be limited to visitors residing in the same county as the park. All theme parks may resume operations if their county is in the "yellow" tier at 25% capacity, according to the state guidance.

The venues must have advanced ticketing systems and preassigned seating to help maintain physical distance. Tailgating parties and other activities that encourage mixing of different households in parking lots and other areas must be discouraged, and guests should be advised against yelling, singing and booing, which would spread the virus into the air. Face coverings are to be mandatory.

The state guidance allows local health officers to institute more stringent rules tailored to local conditions.

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County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody tried to convince the state that reopening the venues where thousands would gather "is a really unwise idea," Smith said. She was unsuccessful, however.

"It's not a matter of reasonable scientific decision-making instead of political decision-making," he said.

"We must all continue to prioritize reducing the spread of COVID-19, creating conditions that will allow our businesses, schools and other community organizations to operate safely. As we see COVID-19 rates rising in states across the U.S., and as we enter the winter months when risk will increase, we cannot take chances with the health and wellbeing of our community and forfeit the many sacrifices that have been made to slow the spread of COVID-19," the county said in a statement.

Speaking for himself and not for the county, Smith said that the state's new guidance "not only boggles the mind, it is unconscionable."

There is a model to have games without a live audience and it makes no sense to put a large number of people in a stadium, which, "acts like a petri dish," he said.

The county has spoken to operators of California's Great America, Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, Levi's Stadium and SAP Center in San Jose regarding its decision, Smith said. He did not know how they reacted, but he said they seemed to know about the state guidelines changes before the county health officer was notified.

The state's updated guidance issued Tuesday also allows personal care services such as esthetic, skin care, electrology, body art professionals, tattoo parlors, piercing shops and massage therapy to operate indoors with modifications, which the state Department of Public Health said can reduce spread of the virus. The update applies to all counties including those with the highest rate of COVID-19 cases that are in the state's "purple" tier (also known as Tier 1, indicating widespread of the virus).

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Bucking California's relaxed guidelines for large venues, Santa Clara County to keep stadiums, theme parks closed

State's decision to allow large venues to reopen is 'unconscionable,' county executive says

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Oct 20, 2020, 5:16 pm

Professional sporting events will not be allowed to have audiences and theme parks will not resume operation anytime soon in Santa Clara County, despite the state's decision that allows them to reopen, county leaders said on Tuesday afternoon.

County leaders said they would not relax their restrictions on theme parks and sports venues for some time, citing the trajectory of rising COVID-19 cases throughout the nation and warnings by federal and state officials that this fall and winter could see a dramatic rise in infection rates.

"We want to make it clear that superspreader events will not be allowed within the county of Santa Clara," county Executive Jeff Smith said during a press conference in San Jose on Tuesday afternoon.

The California Department of Public Health released new guidance and made updates to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy related to COVID-19 on Tuesday at noon. Professional sporting events at outdoor stadiums and racetracks may resume outdoor operations if their county is in the "orange" tier (also known as Tier 3, indicating a moderate risk level) with capacity limited to 20% and in the "yellow" tier (also known as Tier 4, indicating a minimal risk for COVID-19) with capacity limited to 25%. Ticket sales must be limited to customers traveling within a 120-mile radius. The guidance applies only to professional sports. It doesn't apply to youth or adult recreational, amateur, semi-pro or collegiate sporting competitions, according to the state guidance.

"The changes in the state's guidelines regarding professional sports in our opinion is really quite dangerous," Smith said. "You just do the math. Twenty percent of the number of capacity at Levi's Stadium means just under 14,000 people could attend a football game there, and if you look around the county and around the region within 150 miles of this county there are areas and communities that have positivity rates of COVID that are in the 8% range. Ours in this county happens to be around 1%."

He estimated that somewhere between 250 and 1,000 people out of the 14,000 who would attend a football game at Levi's Stadium would be infected.

"There is no question — this is dangerous. This is the worst thing to be doing at a time when California is beginning to see some light. This amounts to another step backwards," he said.

The state has also allowed theme parks with an overall capacity of less than 15,000 to resume limited operations if their county is in the "orange" tier of the state's blueprint for reopening with capacity limited to 25% or 500 people, whichever is fewer. The smaller parks may only open outdoor attractions, and ticket sales must be limited to visitors residing in the same county as the park. All theme parks may resume operations if their county is in the "yellow" tier at 25% capacity, according to the state guidance.

The venues must have advanced ticketing systems and preassigned seating to help maintain physical distance. Tailgating parties and other activities that encourage mixing of different households in parking lots and other areas must be discouraged, and guests should be advised against yelling, singing and booing, which would spread the virus into the air. Face coverings are to be mandatory.

The state guidance allows local health officers to institute more stringent rules tailored to local conditions.

County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody tried to convince the state that reopening the venues where thousands would gather "is a really unwise idea," Smith said. She was unsuccessful, however.

"It's not a matter of reasonable scientific decision-making instead of political decision-making," he said.

"We must all continue to prioritize reducing the spread of COVID-19, creating conditions that will allow our businesses, schools and other community organizations to operate safely. As we see COVID-19 rates rising in states across the U.S., and as we enter the winter months when risk will increase, we cannot take chances with the health and wellbeing of our community and forfeit the many sacrifices that have been made to slow the spread of COVID-19," the county said in a statement.

Speaking for himself and not for the county, Smith said that the state's new guidance "not only boggles the mind, it is unconscionable."

There is a model to have games without a live audience and it makes no sense to put a large number of people in a stadium, which, "acts like a petri dish," he said.

The county has spoken to operators of California's Great America, Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, Levi's Stadium and SAP Center in San Jose regarding its decision, Smith said. He did not know how they reacted, but he said they seemed to know about the state guidelines changes before the county health officer was notified.

The state's updated guidance issued Tuesday also allows personal care services such as esthetic, skin care, electrology, body art professionals, tattoo parlors, piercing shops and massage therapy to operate indoors with modifications, which the state Department of Public Health said can reduce spread of the virus. The update applies to all counties including those with the highest rate of COVID-19 cases that are in the state's "purple" tier (also known as Tier 1, indicating widespread of the virus).

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Oct 21, 2020 at 12:04 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 12:04 pm
6 people like this

I've been in favor of opening California for months, but NOT large gatherings - regardless of capacity. Way too many people could easily be affected. Keep your gathering small, indoors and outdoors.


jr1
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on Oct 21, 2020 at 4:27 pm
jr1, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 4:27 pm
2 people like this

Poor Californians mixed messages all over. Everyone is flexing power, and the public is getting frustrated. The problem with California to many commissions making different decisions. No wonder people are leaving. Even people in "south Palo Alto" are packing up leaving. Since people are leaving California regardless of wins the Presidency will lose 1-2 House seats. When you lose House seats you loose power.


MVresident2003
Mountain View

Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 6:35 pm
Name hidden, Mountain View

Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 6:35 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Oct 21, 2020 at 9:11 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2020 at 9:11 pm
1 person likes this

MVresident2003 - Just because we haven't heard of any COVID cases tied to NFL stadiums doesn't mean there hasn't been any cases. We don't read about 99% of the cases for the same reason we don't hear about 99% of any illnesses. It's not newsworthy every time someone is ill.

Concerts would be a disaster. People are packed together so closely. I agree that it would provide badly needed jobs and it would be "normalcy." At what expense?


chris
Registered user
University South
on Oct 22, 2020 at 12:48 pm
chris, University South
Registered user
on Oct 22, 2020 at 12:48 pm
1 person likes this

Many sports fans are not mask-abiding citizens. Have you watched any sports events on TV? They make the superspreading event at the a White House look like a Rose Garden.


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