We know you want to do what’s right. Here’s a quick look at where we're at and what's allowed
December 10, 2020
  • So what’s the situation?

    As of Dec. 10, 2020, San Mateo County is in the purple Tier 1* on the state’s four-tier, color-coded system (called the Blueprint for a Safer Economy) to permit the opening of certain businesses and activities.

    Purple Tier 1 means the coronavirus known as COVID-19 is “widespread” and many indoor business operations are closed.

    Additionally, all Californians are advised not travel significant distances and should stay close to home as much as possible to prevent the spread of the virus.

    *Every county in California is assigned to a tier based on its test positivity and adjusted case rate. The adjusted case rate is the 7-day average of daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population with a 7-day lag to account for testing delays. The rate is then adjusted for testing volume to give credit to counties that are doing more testing or penalizing counties that aren’t doing enough.

    Bottom Line: The virus is widespread. Take health and safety precautions seriously.

    Does the state’s new “Regional Stay at Home Order” announced December 3 apply to San Mateo County?

    No. The state has outlined the framework, based on hospital ICU capacity, that will trigger the stay-at-home order for our region when capacity drops below 15 percent.  San Mateo County’s ICU capacity is above the threshold and health professionals will continue to closely scrutinize County and regional hospitalization data.

    While the County supports our Bay Area colleagues’ early adoption of the measures, San Mateo and five other Bay Area counties have chosen to follow the state’s existing metrics and process as the vast majority of the state has as well. If and when the governor pulls the trigger in our region, San Mateo County will comply with the new stay-at-home order.

    Bottom Line: Take personal responsibility for your actions. Help us all avoid further restrictions by staying safe and making smart choices.

    Can I travel?

    Yes, safely, within limits and by following the California Department of Public Health’s Travel Advisory.

    Californians are encouraged to stay home or in their region and avoid non-essential travel to other states or countries. Avoiding travel can reduce the risk of virus transmission and bringing the virus back to California.

    So let’s look at non-essential versus essential travel:

    Non-essential travel” includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.

    According to the state’s travel advisory, persons arriving in California from other states or countries, including returning California residents, should practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. These persons should limit their interactions to their immediate household. This recommendation does not apply to individuals who cross state or country borders for essential travel.

    Essential travel” includes: work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security. Persons who cross state or country borders for essential travel are not

    Bottom Line: Stay in your county if you can. Don’t drive more than 2 to 3 hours.

    Is there a curfew in San Mateo County?

    Yes – It’s called a Limited Stay At Home Order that applies to all counties in purple Tier 1.

    On Nov. 19, 2020, the state announced a limited Stay at Home Order requiring that “all gatherings with members of other households and all activities conducted outside the residence, lodging, or temporary accommodation with members of other households cease” between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in counties in the purple tier.

    The order is in effect until 5 a.m. December 21. There are a number of exceptions.

    For instance, you can still go outside for walks (with members of your own household) and shop for groceries or get restaurant food to go (or delivered). Restaurants are deemed essential and can provide take-out and delivery* – but must shutter all sit-down operations (outdoor is allowed under certain conditions outside the curfew hours) from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

    Other exceptions include:

    • Individuals going home or to their workplace
    • Individuals getting medical assistance
    • Those who work in critical infrastructure during these hours
    • Unsheltered persons

    See the COVID19.ca.gov Essential Workforce web page for full list of California's Critical Infrastructure workforce.

    *The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved an emergency regulation to establish a temporary cap on commissions and fees charged by third-party food delivery services (e.g., Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash) to local restaurants in all of San Mateo County through the earlier of June 30, 2021 or the end of the local emergency declaration related to COVID-19.

    Bottom Line: Stay home if you can. Don’t mingle with anyone outside your immediate household.

    We really need to get outside. Are parks and playgrounds open?

    Yes, generally.

    Outdoor playgrounds can open with modifications in all tiers. See requirements for outdoor playgrounds to keep them safe and fun for everyone.

    Many outdoor activities – visiting parks, camping – are allowed in all tiers with modifications. Follow this guidance for campgrounds, RV parks, ski operations, and other outdoor recreation to create a safer environment for workers and patrons.

    Bottom Line: Get outdoors – just be safe about it.

    When do we have to wear face coverings/masks?

    If you’re shopping or are otherwise inside at a spot that’s not your home – and you’re not eating or drinking -- you should wear a face covering/mask.

    If you’re outside, you should wear a face covering/mask any time you may come within six feet of anyone not in hour immediate household. Be sure to carry your face covering/mask in a readily accessible location, such as around your neck or in a handy pocket.

    Note: The County’s Health Order recommends that if you live with a vulnerable person and frequently engage in out-of-home activities, you wear a face covering inside your home. Vulnerable people include: people sixty years old and older; people with serious heart conditions, hypertension, severe obesity, diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease being treated by dialysis, and moderate-to-severe asthma; and those who are immunosuppressed.

    Bottom Line: Wear your face covering/mask. It works.

    Activity and Business Restrictions Under Purple Tier 1

    Restaurants (Dine In)

    Outdoors only with modifications (takeout and delivery open with modifications)


    Outdoors only with modifications

    No more than three households

    Prohibited, with certain exemptions, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

    Places of Worship

    Outdoor only with modifications

    Movie Theaters, Gyms and Fitness Centers, Museums, Zoos and Aquariums

    Outdoor only with modifications

    Hair Salons, Barbershops, Personal Care Services

    Open indoors with modifications

    All Retail (except stand-alone grocers), Shopping Centers, Malls, Swap Meets

    Open indoors with modifications

    Maximum 25 percent capacity

    Closed common areas

    Closed food courts


    The County’s move to the Purple Tier will have no impact on schools that have already resumed modified in-person instruction. 

    However, additional restrictions and/or a waiver process will apply to those that have not yet transitioned to in-person instruction.

    Offices for Non-Essential Workers

    Remote only

    Outdoor Playgrounds/Recreational Facilities

    Open with modifications


    All businesses are required to follow industry-specific guidance.

    What’s open and what’s closed in each tier? Find out on the California Department of Public Health’s website. Look at each county’s tier status here.