Santa Clara mass gathering ban to affect several Bay Area teams

Santa Clara County in California has implemented a ban on all mass gatherings in excess of 1,000 people for the rest of March due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, a measure that threatens a trio of San Jose Sharks games, a San Jose Earthquakes match, and the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament at Stanford University in Palo Alto, among other events.

The public health department in the county late on March 9 imposed the measure, to last until at least April 1, after the first death from coronavirus was reported there, and 43 cases overall have been detected in Santa Clara, County.

“Today’s order and new recommendations will reduce the number of people who develop serious illness and will prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health officer. “This is critically important for anyone with healthcare needs, not just those most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19.”

The National Hockey League’s Sharks have home games at the SAP Center slated for March 19, March 21, and March 29. A minor league hockey game on March 17 is the next event at that facility. What the Sharks will do has not been determined, though options including playing the games without attending fans, or playing in a neutral or road site.

“We will adhere to the mandated guidelines,” the Sharks said in a statement. “We will be reviewing each scheduled event to take place for the rest of the month, and provide an update in the coming days. We appreciate the understanding and patience of our fans, guests, and partners during this unprecedented time.”

The Major League Soccer Earthquakes are scheduled to play March 21 at home at Earthquakes Stadium, and also said it will comply with the county order. The club will similarly release more information soon regarding alternate plans.

The Stanford women’s basketball team is slated to play host to the opening weekend of the national women’s tournament March 20-22, and has several other sports with home games on its intercollegiate competition schedule for the month of March. The school says all events remain scheduled for now.

The National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers also play in the county. But given the team is in the offseason, it wouldn’t be subject to the mass gathering ban unless it extends all through the spring and summer and into the 2020 NFL season.