People gather around a dining table
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LOOKOUT PM: Omicron and holiday gatherings; what’s open and closed

Good evening Santa Cruz! Though the rain seems to have taken a temporary break, it looks like we’re in for a few more days of wet weather. I hope you and yours are staying dry, warm and eating your weight in holiday treats.

A quick programming note: our dedicated staff will continue to keep an eye on things both on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, making sure you have all the information you need to keep you happy, healthy and informed. But our morning and afternoon newsletters will be taking a quick break, restarting with our regular Sunday Reads.

So, without further ado, here’s your Thursday headlines:

What’s open, what’s closed and what’s happening

A festive table setting with holiday lights in the background
(Via Pixabay)

Where to go and what to do: Business and offices are going to mostly be closed on Friday and Saturday, but there are a few places still open — as well as numerous religious events and more secular activities. Check out our listings here.

Is it safe to eat at restaurants amid Omicron surge?

Lori Joaquin, with her 2-year-old son Zac Joaquin, and sister Robyn Vasquez eat lunch at Philippe The Original
Lori Joaquin, with her 2-year-old son, Zac Joaquin, and sister Robyn Vasquez eat lunch at Philippe The Original near downtown Los Angeles for the first time in a year. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

What the experts say: Overall, the decision on dining out comes down to a personal assessment of risk — something that could be affected by how old you are, your underlying conditions, local rates of coronavirus transmission and the effect on your family, friends and work should you become infected. Here’s some tips on how to make that call.

Omicron sweeping through California with staggering speed, raising alarm and questions (Los Angeles Times)

Presented by Kaiser Permanente

While the holidays can be a cheerful time for many, they can also be some of the most difficult times for others. Kaiser...

BOLO Best Bets: Christmas takes center stage as festivities beckon beyond

A scene from Farley's Christmas Wonderland in Midtown Santa Cruz
(Via Facebook)

Weekend fun: This might be the one weekend of the year we point out the joys of staying home with family, food, and your favorite adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” (may we suggest the 1970 musical “Scrooge”?). But the heck with that! Here’s what Wallace Baine and company suggest are the things to do.

Presented by Cabrillo College

As the cost of college textbooks continue to rise, educators and students alike are looking to more contemporary modes...

Jackie Vasquez.
(Via Jackie Vazquez)

She helps take care of the farmworkers who help put food on our tables

Unsung Santa Cruz: Jackie Vasquez has become an active advocate for taking care of farmworkers. Her work at GoodFarms involved everything from providing food and school supplies to families in need to bringing health services and vaccination clinics right to the fields. See what Lookout’s Lily Belli discovered.

FIND ALL THE STORIES HERE: Unsung Santa Cruz: Lookout highlights regular folks doing great things

Presented by Brezsny Associates

While the holidays are usually a slow time for home buying and selling, this quick review of November real estate sales...

More from here & elsewhere

Bay Area storm kills two in Millbrae (Sentinel)
The new antiviral COVID pills are on their way to the Bay Area(San Francisco Chronicle)
Fire guts South San Jose synagogue (Mercury News)
Omicron variant detected in Monterey County for the first time (KBSW)

And that’s the way it was in Santa Cruz on this Thursday. Good night to all, and to all a good night!

Dan Evans
Executive Editor