The health officers said they have 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. The number of confirmed cases increased from 258 to 2,092 cases between March 15 and March 29. The new stay-at-home order is a complement to the indefinite statewide stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month. NOTE: In a clarification, the new order defines “residences” to include both the living structures and outdoor spaces associated with them, such as patios, porches, backyards, and front yards that are only accessible to a single family or household unit.
“Extending the stay-at-home order should reduce the number of sick patients seeking care at one time, giving us time to acquire more medical supplies for providers who will be providing care to people sick with COVID-19,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County. “The extension will allow doctors and nurses to better treat those who do get sick and save countless lives.”
Like the previous local order, the new order requires people to stay at home except for doing essential activities, such as grocery shopping, in six counties: Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara, as well as the city of Berkeley. Non-essential businesses will remain closed.
The new order adds some clarifying language around essential business and activities, as well as some new directives, including:
- Use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas, and similar recreational areas is prohibited. Those 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. Those facilities must be closed for recreational use.
- Sports requiring people to share a ball or other equipment must be limited to people in the same household.
- Requires essential businesses to develop a social distancing protocol before April 3.
- Most construction — residential and commercial — is prohibited.
- Funerals limited to no more than 10 people attending.
- Essential businesses expanded to include service providers that enable residential transactions (notaries, title companies, real estate agents, etc.); funeral homes and cemeteries; moving companies, rental car companies and rideshare services that specifically enable essential activities.
- Essential businesses that continue to operate facilities must scale down operations to their essential component only.
Marin County Public Health also issued an updated park closure order that provides clarity on park and open space access in Marin County. In summary, the new order states that individuals may access parks and open space areas that are local to their homes and are easily accessible by foot, bicycle or other non-motorized means, strictly for the purpose of engaging in exercise, as defined by the updated shelter-in-place order.
Driving to access parks or open space areas is prohibited, except for individuals with disabilities with vehicles possessing current and valid disabled person parking placards or license plates. Above all, social distancing requirements must be followed at any park location and people are expected to stay local to the greatest extent possible.
What are the Major Changes?
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 to COVID-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.
- Social distancing requirements are mandatory for everyone, including essential workers. These requirements include maintaining six-foot social distancing between individuals who are not members of your household. There are some exceptions—like when social distancing is impossible or inadvisable.
- If you move into or out of the Bay Area region, you are strongly encouraged to quarantine for 14 days, following the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- In addition to activities allowed under the Prior Shelter Order, you may leave your residence to:
- Attend a funeral with no more than 10 individuals present.
- Manage after-death arrangements and burial.
- Arrange for shelter or avoid homelessness.
- Avoid domestic violence or child abuse.
- Travel for parental custody arrangements.
- Travel to a temporary residence to avoid exposing others to COVID-19.
- You are allowed to leave your residence to access any healthcare services, including elective and preventative care services.
- You are allowed to leave your residence to work or volunteer at healthcare operations, as well as to provide or access health care services.
- Blood banks and blood drives can continue to operate. You’re allowed to work or volunteer for blood banks or blood drives, and you can donate blood.
New Requirements for All Essential Businesses:
- Before Friday, April 3, essential businesses that continue to operate facilities in the County must create, post, and implement a Social Distancing Protocol for each facility frequented by employees or the public, using the template attached to the Order. Essential businesses must also provide a copy of their Social Distancing Protocol to all employees and must provide evidence of its implementation to any authority enforcing the Order on demand.
- Essential businesses must maximize the number of employees who can work from home. Only those employees who cannot perform their job duties from home may work outside their homes.
- Businesses with both essential and non-essential components must scale down operations to only the essential components. However, retail outlets that sell a significant proportion of essential goods like food, hygiene, and consumer household products may keep open to the public (and stock) the portions of their retail storefronts dedicated to non-essential products.
- Essential businesses must follow industry-specific guidance issued by the Health Officer related to COVID-19.
Additions to the List of Essential Businesses:
- Real Estate. Service providers that enable residential transactions, including real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries, and title companies. Residential viewings may only occur virtually, or if virtual viewing is impossible and the residence is unoccupied, by appointment with no more than two visitors from the same household and one person showing the unit.
- Funeral home providers, mortuaries, cemeteries, and crematoriums.
- Services to assist individuals in finding employment with essential businesses.
- Moving services that facilitate residential or commercial moves allowed by the order.
- Rental car companies and rideshare services (including shared bicycles and scooters) providing services necessary for Essential Activities.
Clarifications to the List of Essential Businesses:
- Retailers that sell non-alcoholic beverages are essential businesses.
- Establishments that sell multiple categories of specified essential products (unprepared food, pet supplies, hygienic products, and household consumer products necessary for sanitation, habitability, or operation of residences) are essential businesses if they sell a significant amount of those essential products. This includes, for instance, a liquor store that sells a significant amount of food.
- Arborists, landscapers, gardeners, and similar service professionals are essential businesses, but only to provide services necessary to maintain the safety and healthy operation of a business or residence. This means they can provide services for fire prevention like weed abatement. But they cannot provide services that are cosmetic or that constitute general upkeep.
- Gas stations, auto-supply, and auto-repair businesses, and auto dealerships may operate only to provide auto-supply and auto-repair services (and not, for example, car washes or onsite car sales).
- Only essential businesses can pick up orders from non-essential retail storefronts, and only if those orders are necessary to their business operation. Non-essential retailers are prohibited from providing curbside pickup service or onsite sales to members of the general public.
- Businesses are prohibited from operating facilities to manufacture or assemble non-essential products.
- Childcare facilities may only operate to provide childcare to children or dependents of workers exempt under the Order, including volunteers and contractors (e.g. employees of essential businesses, workers who must leave their residence to perform minimum basic operations, and workers performing essential governmental functions). Non-exempt workers cannot use childcare facilities.
Construction is restricted to the following types of projects:
- Projects immediately necessary to the maintenance, operation, or repair of essential infrastructure. This means that construction related to essential infrastructure is not allowed if the infrastructure will not be ready for an extended period of time. The expansion of an infrastructural facility that will not be completed for a year, for example, is not fulfilling an immediate need.
- Projects associated with healthcare operations, but only if the construction is directly related to the COVID-19 response.
- Affordable housing, including multi-unit or mixed-use development with at least 10% income-restricted units. Other residential construction is not permitted.
- Public works projects, but only if they are specifically designated as an essential governmental function by the lead governmental agency.
- Shelters and temporary housing, but not including hotels or motels.
- Projects immediately necessary to provide critical non-commercial services to those experiencing homelessness, elderly persons, persons who are economically disadvantaged, and persons with special needs.
- Construction strictly necessary to ensure that a site that is shut down under this Order is safe and secure.
- Construction or repair necessary to ensure that a residence or a building containing essential businesses is safe, sanitary, and habitable if that work cannot be reasonably delayed.
- Failure to comply with the requirements is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
- Violation of the Order constitutes a public nuisance and a violation of the County Ordinance Code. The County may take appropriate actions to stop businesses from violating the Ordinance, including obtaining a temporary restraining order and pulling an applicable permit or revoking an applicable license.