For weeks, San Mateo County has been the only Bay Area county to evade the state's coronavirus watchlist, but on Wednesday it joined the crowd.
The July 29 announcement by county officials saying San Mateo County is joining California's watchlist means that a wide range of businesses and activities may be forced to shut down starting Aug. 1 if the county remains on the list for three consecutive days, unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pickup.
According to the county, this order means the following would have to cease operation: gyms and fitness centers; places of worship and cultural ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals; offices for businesses not in essential service sectors; personal care services, like nail salons and body waxing; hair salons and barbershops; and shopping malls.
The county also said that shops that offer tattoos, piercings and electrolysis may not be operated outdoors and therefore would have to close.
Among other criteria, the state's threshold for inclusion on the watchlist is a COVID-19 case rate of 100 per 100,000 of the population. The county's case rate as of July 29, based on a 14-day rolling average, was 110.4 positive cases per 100,000.
"If the county exceeds the state's case rate threshold for three consecutive days, certain industries and activities will be required to cease operations unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up," the county said Wednesday.
County officials said they did not expect that the local case rate would decrease after three days, and that they "urge businesses and the community to prepare now for the additional restrictions" expected to be imposed Saturday, Aug. 1.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced July 17 that public schools on the state's coronavirus watchlist cannot open campuses until they've been off the list for 14 days.
"We've been anticipating being added to the monitoring list as our case rate hovers above the state's target," said San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy in the county press release. "It's clear that COVID-19 continues to spread in our community and in the Bay Area. It's vital that we all do everything we can -- wearing face coverings, washing our hands, and avoiding gatherings -- to slow and eventually stop the spread. These individual actions can make a huge difference."
The California Department of Public Health addresses San Mateo County on its website, saying it "sees roots of community transmission related to social gatherings without sufficient physical distancing and wearing of facial coverings, as well as higher exposure for residents performing work that involves person-to-person contact and crowded housing conditions that make home isolation difficult."
As of July 28, San Mateo County had a coronavirus case total of 5,306, with a peak number of cases in a single day at nearly 140 on July 20, according to the San Mateo County health department's coronavirus data dashboard.
"The state has not offered guidelines for when restrictions might be lifted," county officials said in the July 29 press release.