Regional Stay At Home Order: Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s what we know about the Regional Stay At Home Order and how you and your household​ can help slow the spread of COVID-19:

Posted at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday, December 17, 2020.
This post will be updated as new information becomes available.

First, what’s the situation?

San Mateo County along with 10 other counties in the Bay Area region is under a state-mandated Regional Stay At Home Order because intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity fell below 15 percent.

The order prohibits private gatherings of any size as well as indoor and outdoor restaurant dining. Most businesses will have to close or adopt new practices.

The order remains in effect for at least three weeks in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties.

After the three weeks, the order may be lifted if the region’s projected ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15 percent. (The state posts ICU capacity by region daily. The state also maintains a publicly-available dashboard on hospital and ICU capacity by county.)

It’s important to note that the Regional Stay At Home Order is less restrictive than the original stay-home orders issued in the spring.

“This public health order strikes the balance between saving lives, providing essential services that we all rely on and still allowing Californians to participate in lower-risk outdoor activities that are crucial for our physical and mental health,” said Dr. Erica Pan, acting state public health officer.

What am I allowed to do under the order?

You are required to stay at home as much as possible.

That said, you can still leave home to engage in essential activities or other activities that do not involve interacting with anyone outside your household.

You can go to the doctor, buy groceries, pick up takeout or go on a hike or walk your dog. Worship and political expression are permitted outdoors.

Most parks and outdoor playgrounds will remain open.

When announcing the Regional Stay At Home order, Gov. Gavin Newsom encouraged people to get outdoors. The order “allows access to (including travel for) critical services and allows outdoor activities to preserve Californians’ physical and mental health.”

Gyms must close indoor operations but can open outdoors with safety protocols.

Schools that have already reopened for in-person classes under a plan reviewed by San Mateo County Health and the San Mateo County Office of Education may remain open.

Can I meet with friends or family members who don’t live under the same roof as me?

The short answer is no – not even outdoors.

Most gatherings, regardless of size, are prohibited.  You may no longer gather socially (even outdoors) in groups of up to 3 households.

“All gatherings with members of other households are prohibited” with limited exceptions, according to the order.

It’s the holiday season. Can I shop?

Yes.

Retail/shopping centers can open for indoor operation at 20 percent capacity, and 35 percent of capacity for standalone grocery stores, with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores.

Capacity is determined by local fire codes.

Can I travel?

The Regional Stay At Home Order coupled with the state’s existing Travel Advisory have led to a lot of confusion.

The short answer is no – except for essential travel. The order prohibits hotel use or short-term rentals for tourism and other non-essential reasons.

Hotels and short-term rentals can only offer accommodation for COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures, treatment measures, accommodation for essential workers in critical industries or providing housing for homeless people or those at risk of becoming homeless.

Under the state’s Travel Advisory, “essential travel” includes work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.

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.

What about youth and adult recreational sports?

The state now permits “Physical conditioning, practice, skill-building, and training that can be conducted outdoors, with 6 feet of physical distancing, and within stable cohorts” in counties under the Regional Stay At Home Order.

Youth are advised to limit activities to their own households.

No team competitions are allowed at least until Jan. 25, 2021.

Do I have to obey the order even if I get two doses of the vaccine?

Yes, there are no exemptions for those who are vaccinated.

Do I still have to wear a face covering after getting vaccinated?

There is not enough information currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html

Are we certain the order lifts in three weeks so I can start making plans?

Whether the order is lifted depends on all of us following the rules and health and safety protocols. If hospital ICU bed capacity increases above the 15 percent threshold, then the order may be lifted.

Are parks and beaches closed?

Parks, beaches and trails are generally open but subject to any restrictions by local, state and federal agencies that  operate in our area.

Check the San Mateo County Parks website for updates about their facilities.

Also California State Parks, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

Are the Post Office, UPS, FedEx and other shipping companies open? I have holiday packages to mail!

Yes, transportation and logistics businesses are considered essential.

What businesses are allowed to open?

Under the order, the following sectors are allowed to remain open with safety precautions:

► Critical infrastructure (when remote option is not possible)
► Schools that have already reopened for in-person classes under a plan reviewed by San Mateo County Health and the San Mateo County Office of Education may remain open
► Non-urgent medical and dental care
► Child care and pre-K

What’s “critical infrastructure?”

Critical infrastructure is an umbrella term for a wide range of industries and activities that are deemed essential to protect the health and well-being of all Californians. It encompasses those who work in food supply chains, energy production, emergency response, health care, telecommunications, social services and more. Find a full list of essential work.

What can stay open – with modifications – with mandatory 100 percent of people wearing masks with physical distancing?

Outdoor recreational facilities
Allow outdoor operation only for the purpose of facilitating physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise, without any food, drink or alcohol sales. Additionally, overnight stays at campgrounds will not be permitted.

Retail
Allow indoor operation at 20 percent capacity, and 35 percent of capacity for standalone grocery stores, with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.

Shopping centers
Allow indoor access at 20 percent capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.

Hotels and lodging
Allow for COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures, treatment measures, provide accommodation for essential workers, or providing housing solutions, including measures to protect homeless populations.

Restaurants
Allow only for take-out or delivery.

Offices
Allow remote only except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible.

Places of worship and political expression
Allow outdoor activities only.

Entertainment production
Industries, studios, and other related establishments such as establishments that provide content for professional broadcast can operate without live audiences.

What must close?

Under the Regional Stay Home Order all operations in the following sectors must be closed (except to the extent that their operations fall within critical infrastructure):

Hair salons and barbershops

Personal care services

Museums, zoos, and aquariums

Movie theaters (except drive-in)

Wineries, bars, breweries, and distilleries (with exception for production, manufacturing, distribution, and retail sale for off-site consumption)

Family entertainment centers

Cardrooms and satellite wagering

Live audience sports

Amusement parks

Useful Links

Always check with trusted sources for the latest information:

San Mateo County Health: Data Dashboard/Health Officer Updates: https://www.smchealth.org/coronavirus

Local COVID-19 testing options: https://www.smcgov.org/testing

Health order violation reporting and appeals: https://cmo.smcgov.org/health-order-violation-reporting-appeals-businesses

State guidance for employers and specific industries: https://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance/

Tracking COVID-19 in California Dashboard: https://covid19.ca.gov/state-dashboard/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

San Mateo County residents can call 2-1-1 with non-medical, non-emergency questions about the coronavirus and local community resources, any time, day or night.

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