Over the weekend, the state of California announced that San Mateo County was moving into the most restrictive “purple tier” of coronavirus restrictions. The move comes amid an 85 percent spike in the virus locally in recent weeks.

The purple tier restrictions effectively close indoor dining, places of worship, gyms and movie theaters. The new restrictions took effect on Sunday. In addition, there is a new stay-at-home order prohibiting residents from leaving their homes to gather with other households from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. It went into effect Monday night.

Among other things, nonessential offices are to close. Indoor gatherings among members of different households are banned and outdoor gatherings are only possible with members of three or fewer households. Shopping malls and retail outlets may remain open at 25 percent capacity.

The new restrictions have no impact on schools that have already been approved to reopen for in-person instruction. Those that have not reopened will face additional restrictions before they can welcome back students.

COVID-19 cases in San Mateo County are on the rise. The adjusted case rate was last reported as 7.6 per 100,000 people.

"We have not seen numbers like this in quite a while and we really need to reverse this incredibly troubling trend," said County Manager Mike Callagy.

The tighter restrictions come at a difficult time as many have traveled for the Thanksgiving holidays, exacerbating the emergency, and many businesses have been counting on the holiday season for survival.

At Devil’s Slide Taproom in Pacifica, the winter weather and tightening restrictions have forced owner Theresa Nolen and her small staff to limit the hours for outdoor dining and takeout to just lunchtime service when the sun is out. Although the taproom was able to open a few tables indoors briefly this year, Nolen said traffic remained low.

The family-friendly restaurant has been able to survive after expanding its outdoor dining patio into the street and thanks to favorable weather throughout summer and fall, Nolen said. As winter weather approaches, she will be watching the forecast closely.

“At this point, it's just going to be a day to day thing,” Nolen said.

As numbers continue to rise and cold weather makes gathering outdoors difficult, county officials are urging residents to continue to stay home throughout the holiday season. They also continued to warn residents that a negative test result is not an all-clear to travel or see family during the holidays, advising residents to continue social distancing, mask wearing and avoiding gatherings even with a negative result.

“A test during the incubation period is too early to detect the virus during the infectious period,” County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow said. “So, if you test negative before or during a trip, you may still present a risk of exposing others to COVID-19.”

To read more about the restrictions, visit https://www.smchealth.org/coronavirus.

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