Coronavirus impact: Contra Costa County bans indoor religious gatherings, enforces face coverings during outdoor dining

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- In an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in Contra Costa County, health officials have implemented several new changes affecting indoor religious services and outdoor dining.

COVID-19 cases have spiked in Contra Costa County and the latest data shows over 8% of people tested in the last seven days came back positive with the virus.



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Effective Sunday at 11:59 p.m., all indoor religious gatherings will be banned, officials said.

"We're probably less than 10% capacity and huge space everyone was spread out and no singing. Everything right along with the guidelines so it's just disappointing that services won't be continuing," said Walnut Creek resident, Adam Bartlett.

County health officials did not give specifics on when indoor services will be able to resume. Outdoor services are still permitted.

"Our church here, they put a ton of work into meticulously following every single one of the guidelines the county laid out and I think in a lot of cases they've gone above and beyond even what the county was asking for," said Bartlett

In outdoor dining settings, staff and customers must wear face coverings at all times, except when eating or drinking.

"Already today, we've gone around and told people 5 times in less than half an hour," said Justin Ferrara, co-owner of Bourbon Highway Restaurant and bar.

Health officials are also requiring for members of extended family "social bubbles" to use face coverings when dining outdoors together, except when putting food or drink in the mouth.

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"When I wake up, the first thing I do is check the Contra Costa County health website and look for any changes. Because we are not being notified," said Ferrara.

Ferrara says they've gone above and beyond. Recently they purchased several boxes of face masks to avoid confrontations with those who don't want to follow the rules.

"We try and limit the possibility of anyone harming the health or putting anyone at risk," said Ferrara.

As to how long these new guidelines will be required, the county announced on their website: "Will review available health system data daily to determine when it is safe to do so."

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