On March 16, 2020, the County Health Officer issued an order limiting activity, travel, and business functions to the most essential needs. We refer to that order as the “Prior Shelter Order.” This new Order replaces the Prior Shelter Order.
When Does this Order Take Effect? When Does it End?
As of 11:59 pm on March 31, 2020, all individuals in the County must strictly follow the provisions in this new Order. This new Order will be in effect until May 3, 2020, but that date could be changed by the County Health Officer.
Why this New Order?
The COVID-19 public health crisis in the County, the region, and the nation has worsened significantly over the past two weeks. Confirmed cases in the six most populous Bay Area counties have increased more than eight-fold since the Prior Shelter Order. The number of confirmed cases increased from 258 to 2,092 cases between March 15, 2020 and March 29, 2020. The number of confirmed deaths rose from 3 to 51 in this same period. While the Prior Shelter Order has been effective in reducing the rate of transmission of the COVID-19 disease (“flattening the curve”), it is not enough.
The County Health Officer has determined that more and stricter social distancing is needed to slow the rate of spread, prevent deaths, and stop the health care system from becoming overwhelmed, and that we need to continue with these social distancing measures for a longer period of time.
What are the Major Changes this New Order Makes to the County Health Officer’s Prior Shelter Order Issued on March 16?
The new Order extends the shelter in place requirements until 11:59 p.m. on May 3, 2020.
The new Order is also more restrictive in a number of ways. Major new restrictions include:
- Social distancing requirements are mandatory. Unless strict compliance is explicitly waived, everyone must comply with the social distancing requirements at all times.
- Before Friday, April 3, 2020, essential businesses that continue to operate facilities in the County must complete, post, and implement a social distancing protocol for each facility that remains open, using the template attached to the Order.
- Essential businesses must maximize the number of employees who work from home, excepting only those employees who cannot perform their job duties from home.
- Essential businesses that continue to operate facilities in the County must scale down operations to their essential component only.
- Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home are no longer essential businesses under the Order, and must cease operations (except minimum basic operations) at facilities in the County.
- Use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas, and similar recreational areas is prohibited. These areas must be closed to public use.
- Use of shared public recreational facilities such as golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, pools, and rock walls is prohibited. These facilities must be closed for recreational use.
- Sports or activities that require use of shared equipment, like frisbees, basketballs, baseballs, and soccer balls, may only be engaged in by members of the same household.
- Most construction—residential and commercial—is prohibited. Exceptions are made for healthcare facility construction directly related to the COVID-19 response; affordable housing; public works projects when designated as essential by the lead governmental agency; shelters and temporary housing; projects necessary to provide critical services to certain vulnerable individuals; construction necessary to secure an existing construction site; and limited essential residential or business repairs.
The new Order also makes important clarifications. Major clarifications include:
- Crowding at beaches, public parks, and open spaces has been a problem. The Health Officer, government, or entity that manages the space may adopt restrictions to reduce crowding and risk of COVID-19 transmission, including limiting number of entrants, restricting vehicular access, or complete closure.
- Essential businesses must follow industry-specific guidance issued by the County Health Officer related toCOVID-19.
- Childcare facilities may only provide care to children or dependents of individuals working for essential businesses, providing essential governmental functions, or performing minimum basic operations for non-essential businesses.
- Individuals may move residences only if it is not possible to wait until the Order expires, such as if a move is already planned or if it is necessary for safety or habitability.
- Landscapers and similar service professionals may only provide services necessary to maintain the sanitation, habitability, or operation of residences or businesses, or for safety reasons. They may not provide services that are cosmetic or for general upkeep.