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Coronavirus and COVID-19 Information: Santa Clara County and Bay Area, California

Trustworthy information about COVID-19

Bay Area Closures and Restrictions Currently in Place to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus

California state is a mix of densely-populated urban centers and extensive rural areas, making it difficult to set one-size-fits-all policies. Statewide Orders are the minimum requirements for all of California, but local governments can make more restrictive Orders when needed to protect their county or city.

Santa Clara County saw some of the the earliest cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and still has the second-highest numbers of confirmed cases in the Bay Area (after Alameda County). So the Orders for these counties tend to be more protective than in other parts of California, although that may change as cases surge elsewhere in the state.

On July 1, California ordered that counties on the watch list (including Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties) must close:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Bars, wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters 
  • Family entertainment centers (for examples: bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages and arcades)
  • Zoos and museums
  • Cardrooms

and some beach parking lots for at least 3 weeks.

Current requirements for the Bay Area counties:

There have been several revisions of those original shelter-in-place orders. The most recent Order of July 2, 2020, a request for variance from the state, was not approved. In the meantime, the previous Orders that were announced in May and in June are still in effect, plus the California state orders.

On March 19, the Governor of California directed everyone in the state to shelter in place in their homes. On March 31, tighter restrictions were ordered for the 6 Bay Area counties (Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties). This means that we are (still!) ordered to stay home, except for the activities that are permitted (list below).

However, anyone at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and people who are sick are strongly urged to self-quarantine and stay home (to the extent possible) except to seek medical care if needed.

Here is a summary of the June Orders for Santa Clara County:

Businesses that are allowed to open must make sure that employees and customers are protected and maintain social distance. They must display their plans for doing this, in a way that is visible to both employees and customers. (See the webpage for Advice for Employers in this guide.) Workers in businesses that are not yet allowed to be open to the public are strongly encouraged to work from home when possible.

Most Bay Area counties require that people wear a non-medical face mask or some kind of covering over both nose and mouth whenever they are outside their homes.

Public or private gatherings are generally not permitted, with some exceptions. The Order effective on June 5 allows outdoor ceremonies of 25 or fewer people, all at least 6 feet away from each other; and outdoor dining in restaurants if properly distanced. (San Mateo County allows indoor places of worship to be open under size and distancing restrictions.) Some outdoor recreation activities are permitted, so long as people maintain distances of at least 6 feet away from others, cover their nose and mouth with a mask or covering, and do not share equipment. Gatherings of people in their cars (like a car parade or drive-in theater) are permitted so long as everyone remains in their vehicles. (California State still considers concerts, conferences, sporting events, gyms, and theaters as "gatherings" that should be closed.)

Among the essential activities for which we are allowed to leave home are:

  • activities that are essential for our health and safely, and of our households (including pets), such as "obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional".
  • shopping for household goods and services, or to deliver those to others. Only 1 person at a time from a household, if possible; everyone must maintain distance from each other.
  • caring for a family member or pet in another household.
  • medical or health care, broadly defined ("hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, mental health providers, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services.") but not to visit a fitness center or gym.
  • volunteering with an approved healthcare organization (for example, donating blood, assisting with delivering Meals on Wheels or other county-approved food banks, contract tracing, etc.).
  • outdoor activities (like hiking, walking, or running) so long as we keep social distances of at least 6 feet away. Outdoor swimming and camping are permitted, so long as distancing is maintained. (However, some parks and recreation areas may still be closed.)
  • working at a job if that cannot be done from home. The  June 5 Order allows restaurants and retail establishments to re-open in limited ways, and other types of businesses as well, so long as distancing is enforced. and workers are protected.
  • as of June 5 in Santa Clara County, childcare, summer camps, and educational programs for children are allowed to operate in small, stable groups (12 or fewer).

Children in stable groups of no more than 12 may participate in summer programs, or be in childcare, as of June 5, 2020. For more details, scroll down to section 15 f. xxvi. of that Order

However, many schools and colleges have already announced that they will continue teaching online through the fall of 2020. 

Current restrictions for other Bay Area counties can be found at:

This relatively new website reports daily data and trends for California state on a county-by-county basis, and for some individual cities as well.

How Long will California have to Shelter in Place?

We don't know.

On April 30, the 6 Bay Area County Public Health Departments jointly released a statement on what needs to happen before it will be considered safe to open some or all of the current restrictions. Those public health departments are looking at specific indicators that would signal that the spread of the novel coronavirus has changed significantly. Their statement gives more detailed descriptions of those indicators, which coordinate with the data used by Gov. Newsom's office to determine the phases of re-opening throughout the state. 

On June 28, San Francisco's mayor  announced that it would roll back plans for loosening restrictions in that county, due to a surge in new cases and hospitalizations. It is possible that other counties may do likewise if infection rates rise in their areas.


PlaneTree Health Library's  webpages will be updated regularly (in some cases, daily) with the latest accurate, verifiable, news you can use during this pandemic.

For up -to-date data on individual counties  in California (and one some individual cities), including whether they meet the state's metrics for re-opening, see:

California [statewide] Department of Public Health

While individual public health departments in CA counties set out recommended or required actions in times of medical crisis, the state's Department of Public Health coordinates resources throughout California, and collects information about what's happening statewide.

Other Issues / Agencies During this Pandemic

Power :

PG&E stated on March 13 that "PG&E will not disconnect any customer's power for nonpayment during this health crisis." Their CARE program to reduce bills for customers facing economic hardships may also apply (check their website to see if qualify). 


On April 2, 2020 Governor Newsom's executive order that protects water services in homes and businesses from being shut off for nonpayment, during emergency responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The CDC's report answers questions about the safety of drinking water during the pandemic.


Sewage, Waste Disposal:

Weekly trash pickup will continue on schedule, although specially-scheduled events (like large item pickup, or electronics recycling) may be cancelled.

To avoid clogs, backups, and other problems with septic tanks, do not flush anything except toilet paper. (Why? so-called "disposable" wipes, paper towels, feminine sanitation products, etc. often contain plastic fibers or other materials that do not dissolve, causing blockages in sewer lines  and build-up in septic tanks.)


About PlaneTree Health Library

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