Santa Clara, California – For the next three weeks at least, San Francisco 49 teams have no home.
This is because Santa Clara County, home of 49 players and Levi Stadium, issued improved COVID-19 guidelines for professional, team and youth sports on Saturday afternoon which imposed a three-week ban on any contact sports taking place in the county.
Saturday’s announcement comes on the heels of a spike in cases of COVID-19 in California and the Gulf region.
The ban and other related guidelines, including a 14-day quarantine of anyone traveling to the county from more than 150 miles away, are set to begin on Monday.
The order stated that “all recreational activities that involve physical contact or being close to people outside the home, including all contact sports, will be banned temporarily.” “People can continue to do outdoor athletics and recreation as social distancing can be maintained at all times.”
The 49-man team currently has two home matches during that three-week period, on December 7 against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Soccer Night and December 13 against Team Washington FC. Under the rules, the team will need to find an alternate venue to play these games in addition to practicing their practices.
“We are aware of the emergency directive of the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health,” 49ers said in a statement. “We are working with the NFL and our partners on operational plans and will share details as soon as they are confirmed.”
A league source told ESPN that the 49 players were working with the league in emergency situations on the NFL Stadium for this possibility before the season began.
At the time, the 49 players had considered potential out-of-state alternatives to the games should they not be allowed to play at home initially. Two of those possibilities are Texas and Arizona. The Cowboys and Cardinals have no match-day scheduling conflict with the Niners’ remaining matches at home and both teams are due to host the Niners in two of the remaining road matches before the season ends.
The Niners’ preference would be to find a local option to train so players don’t have to be separated from their families during the holidays, but all options, including those that involve moving their entire operation out of state, remain on the table.
Santa Clara County attorney James Williams clarified in a news briefing that no one is exempt from the new rules.
“[This] You will temporarily suspend activities that require direct physical contact or interaction in Santa Clara. “So, this means that for these teams, they will not be able to play games or practice as they have direct contact within the district.”
Williams said the 49 and other teams are in maintaining contact with county officials. The team had no comment early on Saturday afternoon but is in the process of gathering information to understand what comes next and possible options for continuing the season.
Although there are some obvious potential alternative locations for games and practices in the Bay Area, it is not yet known how viable they will be or whether further closures in those counties will be closed.
The new health guidelines aren’t limited to 49ers either. NHL’s Stanford and San Jose football, basketball and basketball in Santa Clara and the San Jose Sharks of the NHL play home matches in Santa Clara County. Stanford has a home match scheduled for December 12 and San Jose State have home matches scheduled for December 5 and 11.
Stanford said in a statement that it is aware of the Santa Clara County announcement and remains “in close contact with university and county officials at this time on appropriate next steps.”
According to county officials, as of Saturday, there were 760 new cases of COVID-19 and 239 hospital admissions linked to COVID-71 of them in the ICU. Both the number of new cases and hospitalizations related to COVID have set new records for the highest number per day since the start of the pandemic.
“I am extremely concerned about the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Sarah Cody, responsible for health in Santa Clara County, in a statement. “ The number of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 has doubled in our province in the last two weeks only, and we are in danger of hospital overflow very soon if current trends continue.
“During this critical time of the high rate of COVID-19 transmission in our society, I urge every resident to exercise caution and reduce contact with anyone outside your immediate family to the greatest extent possible.”