Bay Area officials consider two-week quarantine for holiday travelers

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Before you make any holiday travel plans, you might want to considering factoring in a 14-day quarantine after your trip.

Bay Area health officers are considering that measure when they meet Thursday to discuss regional guidelines for the coming winter.

"We have not finalized that guidance. It’s likely to be a recommendation rather than an order. But I offer that just by way to show that’s how seriously we’re taking this," said Marin County Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis. "And that’s a trend that’s emerged just over the past three or four weeks as we’ve seen dramatic increases in cases in other parts of the United States while we’ve seen corresponding progress locally… the last thing we need is people traveling outside to higher prevalence areas and bringing the virus back."

The Bay Area has steadily made progress since the summer in reducing the number of cases and hospitalizations, even as the U.S. saw a record number of new cases Wednesday.

Dr. Willis said quarantining could be key to maintaining that downward trend.

"You either shut the borders or you say, if you’ve been outside the area and you come back you need to isolate for a period of 14 days," he said.

This type of regional approach is something that State Health Director Dr. Mark Ghaly is keeping a close eye on.

"We are looking forward to seeing how the Bay Area counties come together on this to see if it’s something that’s applicable, that should be considered in other regions or statewide," he said. "Restricting or limiting the ability to move from higher transmission areas into lower transmission areas may be what a community needs to be transmission low for themselves."

Some county officials have suggested that keeping travel groups small and local is preferable, but the risk level still depends on where you are traveling to.

Sonoma is the only Bay Area county still in the state's most restrictive purple tier due to widespread transmission, and County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said tourists who travel there for wineries and restaurants could face increased coronavirus exposure.