PictureMarin County Public Health officials say travel outside the Bay Area will increase chances of infection and potentially spread the virus.

With the holiday travel season almost upon usBay Area public health officers are joining hands to issue an array of recommendations designed to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak over the coming weeks and months.

Public health officers from the counties of Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma, and the city of Berkeley issued joint recommendations for staying safe during the holidays.

The joint recommendations for travel and gatherings advise that in-person gatherings be small, short, stable (no more than three households over an extended period), and outdoors. Also, nonessential travel, including holiday travel, is not recommended. Travel outside the Bay Area will increase chances of infection and potentially spread the virus. Those travelling outside the Bay Area are strongly recommended to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return if activities while travelling created higher risk of getting COVID-19.

“When people who live in different houses or apartments are together at the same time in the same space, risk of COVID-19 spreading goes up, even when the people are relatives or friends,” Dr. Sara Cody, health officer for the County of Santa Clara and Director of the Public Health Department. “Please celebrate safely this year and protect yourself and your family by including masks, keeping a distance, and staying outdoors.”

Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said family and friends who plan to travel to a holiday gathering should consider being tested for COVID-19 before and after the gatherings. He said it’s more important than ever to practice the usual precautions, such as a wearing a face covering, washing hands frequently, avoidance of touching surfaces and other people, using hand sanitizer often, and maintaining a minimum of six feet from others.

“Marin residents considering travel should know that COVID-19 rates are high in many regions across the country, and not everyone around you will always be taking the right precautions,” Willis said. “Keep doing the things you’re doing to protect yourself and others, even if the people are around you are not.”

On October 27, Marin moved into the less restrictive orange tier within the statewide Blueprint for a Safer Economy COVID-19 framework, though Willis cautioned this week that a due to a recent, short-term (so far) spike in coronavirus cases in Marin, he is recommending that Marin restaurants reduce their indoor dining capacity to 25 percent density, down from 50 percent. ​Willis said his recommendation that restaurants reduce their indoor capacity to 25 percent will become an order on Tuesday, Nov. 17 if Marin’s COVID-19 metrics don’t improve. It could also mean that the state will move Marin to the more restrictive red tier for a minimum of three weeks, he said.

“We’ve worked hard to achieve our gains, but we’re seeing increases in cases regionally and could easily backslide if we import the virus back into our homes,” Willis said.

County health officers said there are many ways to enjoy the holidays with loved ones without gathering:

  • Enjoy holiday traditions at home with your household
  • Decorate your home and/or yard
  • Share a virtual meal with family and friends
  • Host online parties and/or contests
  • Prepare meals using traditional recipes and deliver to family and neighbors
  • Attend holiday movie nights at drive-in venues
  • Visit holiday-themed outdoor art installations
  • Participate in drive-by events where everyone stays in their vehicles


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