San Mateo County Health Officer Directs Residents to Shelter in Place Order limits activity, travel and business functions to only the most essential needs
March 16, 2020
  • For Immediate Release

    Redwood City — San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow and six other county health officers have issued a unified order for the Bay Area to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and preserve critical health care capacity across the region. Effective midnight Monday, March 16, 2020, San Mateo County residents are required to stay home, limiting activity, travel and business functions to only the most essential needs.While the intent of the order is to prevent the spread of COVID 19, residents will still have access to essential services like medical care, gas, and food delivery. Essential government functions such as law enforcement, fire and other public safety activities will continue. Hospitals, pharmacies and organizations providing health care may continue to provide services.

    With this order in place, residents will still be able to get groceries, care for relatives, run necessary errands and conduct the essential parts of their lives. They will also be able to go outdoors for a walk or a hike while practicing social distancing — staying six feet away from another person. Public or private gatherings of any kind are still prohibited.
    So what does this mean for San Mateo County residents and businesses?

    Essential businesses allowed to operate during the recommended action also include:

    • Organizations that provide essential social services such as food banks and
    • Shelters
    • Grocery stores, including convenience stores
    • Gas stations
    • Banks

    For restaurants, there is no dine-in or seating allowed, but delivery and carry out are okay. Restaurant employees must adhere to social distancing guidelines within the facilities. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators and other providers of necessary home repair can continue to operate but must also adhere to social distancing guidelines as is also required of gas stations, auto supply and auto repair related facilities. Churches, synagogues and other places of worship are not exempted and may not offer inperson worship services (mass gatherings of any number of persons are prohibited). Social services may continue such as food banks and funerals as long as the social distancing guidelines are followed and funerals are limited to family members only.

    “We are in a rough place. And we are going to have difficult times ahead of us,” said Dr. Scott Morrow, San Mateo County’s health officer. “The measures that we are putting in place are temporary. But they will last longer than any of us want. This is the time to unite as a community, to come to each other’s aid and dig really deep.” For more information, including a FAQ, go to