A county in California is banning large gatherings for 30 days in order to stop the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Sonoma county in the coastal region north of San Francisco issued the ban on indoor events with more than 50 people and on outdoor events with more than 100 people.
County health officials also asked residents to voluntarily shelter in place and avoid contacting people outside of their household for 30 days. The new restrictions will begin on Wednesday and remain until Feb. 11.
“Our case rates are at their highest level since the pandemic began and our hospitalizations are climbing at an alarming rate as well,” said Sonoma County health officer Sundari Mase. “We are seeing widespread transmission occurring within unvaccinated groups as well as some transmission among vaccinated individuals.”
Officials said that the data indicated that about half of the coronavirus cases in the county came from large gatherings.
Mase said the order was necessary to avoid a deleterious impact on hospitals despite the lower hospitalization rate associated with Omicron.
“We know what we need to do to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” Mase explained. “The next 30 days will be key to helping us stop this rapid spread of this highly contagious variant in our community.”
Business owners in Sonoma worried that the new health order will damage them just as they’re recovering from the first lockdown.
“It’s gonna be devastating again, just when we’re sort of climbing up the mountain out of the hole, it’s, thirty days is a long time,” said business owner Barbara Mezzetta to KPIX-TV.
“There’s so many businesses that have already closed in Sonoma, we’re just are so lucky that we’ve made it through,” she added.
Here’s a local news video about the lockdown order:
COVID: Sonoma County Business Owners Worried About Impact of New Health Order