Bears to stay in Berkeley amid new COVID-19 protocols

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Alvin Wu/File

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In light of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new regional stay-at-home order, the Bay Area announced its own guidelines Friday. Alameda County was one of several to enact stricter guidelines, which will go into action Sunday.

These rules will limit shopping and dining, but they will not limit Cal Athletics, according to Berkeley city health officer Lisa Hernandez.

“We will allow Cal to play their sports. They have a detailed return-to-play plan that I have reviewed and provided feedback, and they have been using that plan for several months,” Hernandez said. “I’m confident in their program and the measures they have instituted for protecting their players.”

A source within Cal Athletics confirmed this.

Cal football’s game against Oregon is scheduled to take place Saturday before the new requirements go into place, but it seems that the Bears need not worry about any type of change or displacement. The blue and gold are currently restricted to 75-person cohorts when practicing for football, are subject to regular testing and must abide by strict quarantine guidelines if players test positive for COVID-19.

The Bears have had two positive COVID-19 tests this season, though the latest quarantined players have been cleared to return to play. The Bears’ season opener against Washington was canceled due to safety protocols.

Cal has reportedly considered plans to change locales should its ability to play and practice be limited in the East Bay.

“It’s been brought up a number of times throughout the past seven months,” said head coach Justin Wilcox of possible plans to leave Berkeley in order to play. “We’re open to doing whatever we can to protect our players and have the opportunity to play. I don’t know if that’s an option. That would be one for our athletic director and our chancellor; that’s not a decision I would make.”

Recently, the Stanford football program was forced out of its home stadium in Santa Clara due to new COVID-19 regulations and is now traveling between Oregon and Washington in order to practice and play. The Cardinal recently practiced in Bellevue Downtown Park.

While the Bears have not faced such challenges and will not according to the latest information from local public health officials, it remains a possibility they’re prepared for.

“If it has to happen to us, we’re flexible, we’ll make it happen. But, as of right now, we’re still in Berkeley and looking forward to playing Saturday in Memorial Stadium,” said quarterback Chase Garbers earlier this week.

Jasper Kenzo Sundeen covers football. Contact him at [email protected] .