SAN JOSE, CA – NOVEMBER 30: After picking up their luggage, travelers leave from Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in San Jose, Calif. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)
Not even the San Francisco 49ers are exempt from their home county’s newly implemented quarantine order; barred from playing or practicing in Santa Clara County, they won’t return home for at least three weeks.
The new order, which took effect Monday, requires anyone — even county residents — arriving from at least 150 miles away, by any means of travel, to quarantine for 14 days. The county’s means for enforcing it, however, are less clear.
What exactly does the order entail, and how does it impact other travel advisories in California? More importantly, what does it mean for you? Sit back, relax and read up; you’re about to have a lot of time on your hands.
Quarantine … what does that mean?
On this, the county is clear and strict: You must remain “at home or another place of temporary shelter” without any contact with anyone outside of “one’s own immediate traveling party or one’s household” for 14 days after arriving in the county, according to the order.
This applies to anyone “traveling into Santa Clara County, whether by air, car, train, or any other means, directly or indirectly from a point of origin greater than 150 miles from the County’s borders.”
Who doesn’t need to quarantine?
Fear not, Bay Area traveler, while nonessential travel is advised against, you are still free to pass through or visit anywhere in Santa Clara County as long as it’s from within a 150-mile radius. For example, that extends as far east as Sacramento but not all the way to Lake Tahoe, and as far south as Big Sur but certainly not Los Angeles.
Additionally, workers in certain “critical infrastructure” sectors, as outlined here, as well as those performing an “essential government function,” are exempt from the order.
Anything less than an overnight stay in the county also does not require a quarantine period.
Are there any exceptions?
Just one: to seek medical care. And, should you venture out of isolation for that, you’re advised to avoid public transit.
OK, but I need food…
Well, nobody can dine indoors in Santa Clara County, so you’re at least not missing out on that. Trips to the grocery store, or even for an al fresco bite, are strictly forbidden for two weeks once you arrive inside the county limits.
To assist, the county provides support services for anyone in isolation or quarantine. This can include help buying groceries and other supplies, as well as lodging if there is nowhere else for you to isolate. The support hotline is available at (408) 808-7770, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
How are they enforcing the order?
So far, travelers arriving at San Jose International Airport are being issued notices of the quarantine order. Hotels, motels and other lodging establishments are also required to inform guests of the new rules. But there is no enforcement mechanism outlined in the travel directive, and the county is taking fewer steps to trace new visitors than some of its counterparts.
In Los Angeles County, travelers are required to provide contact information while acknowledging the local quarantine order, which is similar to the one in Santa Clara County. Other states, like New York and Hawaii, also have forms for any new arriver to fill out, as well as penalties for refusing to do so or for breaking quarantine.
How about those other travel advisories?
There is no statewide travel order, only an advisory against nonessential travel. That states anyone arriving in California from outside of the state, including residents returning home, “should” quarantine for 14 days, but there is no requirement to do so.
Some other locales allow travelers to test out of quarantine, but for now, that is not an option in Santa Clara County.
Didn’t the CDC revise its quarantine guidelines?
It has been reported that, in hopes of increasing compliance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering shortening the recommended quarantine period from two weeks, possibly to 7-10 days. Its current guidance, however, still says, “Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.”
The virus is known to have an incubation period of between two and 14 days, meaning it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to appear.
Why are they implementing this now?
Cases are exploding in Santa Clara County, and hospitalizations are following. In announcing the new order, Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s health officer, said she was “gravely concerned by the continuing surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.”
On Monday, Santa Clara County reported its highest single-day case count of the entire pandemic, according to data compiled by this news organization, and its daily infection rate reached an all-time high. The number of people hospitalized in the county has nearly doubled in two weeks to its highest point of the pandemic.