After the county marked its first death from the coronavirus on Monday, Santa Clara health officials announced that all "mass gatherings" of 1,000 or more people would be banned for the next three weeks, at a minimum.
The county's health department says that it will be monitoring the changing picture of coronavirus infections over time. "We expect to learn much more about the situation over the coming weeks which will help us in determining whether the prohibition should continue, be modified, or can be lifted," officials said.
The move makes Santa Clara County the first jurisdiction in the country to introduce a blanket ban on large events, though it likely won't be the last — and the City of San Francisco over the weekend said it was temporarily halting all "non-essential" public gatherings at city facilities.
The Santa Clara ban means that at least three scheduled home games for the San Jose Sharks will be impacted at the SAP Center, and the county's health officer, Dr. Sara Cody, tells the Business Times that sporting events were largely what the county was targeting with the ban. Dr. Cody says the ban was necessary because "over the last five days, the uptick in cases — particularly those where we have found no link to travel or other cases indicating community spread — that is a tipping point for us. And it's time to issue the order."
There are now 43 confirmed cases in the county, with about half of those attributed to community spread. And a 60-year-old woman who was one of the first people in the county with a confirmed coronavirus infection died Monday after several weeks in the hospital.
The Sharks will still be allowed to play games at home but only if they restrict the audience to under 1,000 people. Per KRON4, the team has yet to decide what they will be doing about the ban when they return home for games on March 19 against the Montreal Canadiens, March 21 against the Boston Bruins, and March 29 against the Arizona Coyotes.
The order does not appear to affect Levi's Stadium just yet — no concerts or events are scheduled there until April. But if it gets extended, that could spell trouble for the BTS tour, which is scheduled to arrive at the stadium April 25 — the K-pop boy band recently canceled the Korean leg of their tour because of the coronavirus.