Contra Costa prohibits indoor worship, tightens mask mandate amid COVID-19 case uptick

Bay Area extended shelter-in-place order eases some restrictions
Image of coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, courtesy of the Center for Disease Control, or CDC.

Contra Costa County health officials are tightening face-covering requirements and temporarily prohibiting indoor worship in response to an 8.04 percent rise in the percentage of COVID-19 tests returning positive in the community.

A revised health order temporarily prohibits indoor worship services effective Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Services held earlier on Sunday, July 12, are not subject to this change.

Certain categories of outdoor gatherings, including worship services and social protests, are permitted at any size as long as state health guidelines are followed.

Staff and customers in outdoor dining settings must now observe face covering requirements at all times, “except when putting food or drink in the mouth,” the county said.

“Customers may remove face coverings to eat or drink while seated at a table
outdoors,” the health order states.

However, customers must wear face coverings while waiting in line; while going to or from their table; when ordering their meals or otherwise interacting with employees; while seated at a table and waiting for food, drinks or checks to arrive; after meals and beverages have been consumed; and while inside a facility to use a restroom or to order or pick up food from a  quick-service operation.

Additionally, members in extended family “social bubbles” must now always use face coverings when together, except when putting food or drink in the mouth, the county added.

In June, the county said it had received authorization to ease shelter in place restrictions, but the county plan stated that a 8 percent or greater testing positivity rate would prompt a review, which has occurred.

“The seven-day average number of new cases identified in the county rose from 38 on June 8 to 146 on July 8, while the seven-day average number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients rose from 17 to 54 during the same period,” the county said.

On average, the county’s 209 adult intensive care unit beds are on average about half full on a given day, and public officials are concerned increased COVID-19 cases could exceed capacity at hospitals.

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