General Questions

WHAT ORDERS ARE ADDRESSED IN THESE FAQS?

These FAQs answer questions about the County’s Order issued March 16, 2020 which can be found here.

We believe the County’s Order is consistent with the Governor’s Order, which can be found here, but the Governor’s Order must be complied with if more restrictive than the County Order.

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Who do I contact If I have questions?

Please call 211 for all non-emergency and non-medical inquiries about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have specific questions about the shelter-in-place Order issued on March 16, 2020.

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Why are we doing this?

This is a critical intervention to reduce harm from the spread of the coronavirus in our community. This is a mandatory order enforceable by a fine or jail.

The health officers of seven Bay Area jurisdictions are responding to quickly mounting cases and serious illnesses across the region.

Now is the time to do everything we can to prevent the situation from getting much worse in a matter of days or weeks. Every hour counts. We need and appreciate the cooperation of everyone who lives and works in San Mateo County to act immediately.

While this news may feel alarming, it is a necessary step to prevent a worsening situation. The patterns of the virus around the world, and in our own state, tell us that moving right now to maximize social distancing and restrict people gathering is the best way to fight the virus and save lives.

If everyone works together, we should be able to adjust to the new rules over the next few weeks.

We know that there will be a lot of questions and concerns at the beginning of this new regimen. This is a major change being taken to protect public health. Please be patient and kind to one another. Together, we will get through this, and our community’s health will be protected.

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What does it mean to “shelter in place” and how is that different from “social distancing”?

“Social distancing” is a practice to be used only when you leave the house for activities or work that are allowed under the County’s Order*. “Social Distancing Requirements” includes maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.

The term “shelter in place” means to stay in your home and not leave unless allowed under the County’s Order*.

*Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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The Governor issued a shelter in place order. Do I still need to comply with San Mateo County’s Order?

Yes. In addition to the Governor’s statewide order, the San Mateo County Health Officer’s March 16, 2019 Order remains in effect. All County residents must comply with the County’s Order, the Governor’s Order and any applicable laws and regulations. If the restrictions in the two orders are different, you must comply with the most restrictive order.

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WHAT RELIEF WILL BE GIVEN TO NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES AND WORKERS?

On March 24, 2020, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved $3,000,000 in emergency funding to support those most impacted in San Mateo County in partnership with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Funds will benefit San Mateo County residents, small businesses and non-profits. Please see this website for details: https://www.smcstrong.org/

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How long will we stay home?

This goes into effect on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. It is currently set to last for 3 weeks through Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

We want to be sure the Order is in place for only as long as necessary, and the Health Officer will be closely monitoring the situation every day in order to determine what adjustments make sense.

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Should I stock up on food, necessities like toilet paper, and on medicines?

No. You will continue to be able to purchase these items whenever you need them, as stores selling necessary items like grocery stores, pharmacies, and hardware stores will remain open.

Continue to buy normal quantities of these items on the same schedule you normally do. This will ensure that there is enough for everyone.

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Do I have to perform social distancing at home with my family?

What happens if I don’t comply with this order?

You can be fined or imprisoned

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What's closed?

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Entertainment venues
  • Gyms and fitness studios

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Where does this apply?

This is in effect across the Bay Area, including in Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties and the City of Berkeley.

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Is this mandatory or is it just guidance?

It is mandatory. This Order is a legal Order issued under the authority of California law. You are required to comply, and it is a misdemeanor crime not to follow the order (although the intent is not for anyone to get into trouble).

It is critical for everyone to follow the Order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect themselves, their loved ones, friends, neighbors and the whole community.

All persons, businesses, and other entities are required to comply if they do not fall within the exemptions that are specified in the Order.

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What if I can’t get out of the home? How can I get supplies and food?

Please contact friends, family, or others you know who can provide support. They are permitted to pick up any of your needs. Please also contact 211 if you do not have family or friends who can drop off food and supplies, the operators can connect you with a local aide to assist.

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Can I apply for unemployment?

If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you may be able to file a claim for unemployment insurance. You can find information here: https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm

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I had tickets to an event, will I get my money back?

You will have to work with the host of your event to see if the event is rescheduled or your money will be refunded.

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I am homeless. How can I comply with the order?

People who are experiencing homelessness are encouraged to try to stay with family or friends, identify housing options, or access emergency resources such as shelter. They can also call one of the Core Service Agencies located throughout San Mateo County. Core Service Agencies provide clients with safety net services, including for homeless shelter referrals, based on an evaluation of each client’s needs and situation. It's recommended to contact the Core Service Agency by phone. Find the list of Core Service Agencies here:
https://hsa.smcgov.org/emergency-safety-net-assistance-core-service-agencies

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Can I be evicted from my house or apartment while the shelter-in-place order is in effect?

On March 24, 2020, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors adopted an emergency regulation that places a temporary Countywide moratorium on evictions from residential units for (1) non-payment of rent by tenants directly impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; and (2) certain no-fault causes unless the eviction is necessary for the health and safety of the tenant, other residents in the tenant’s building, the landlord, or the landlord’s family. The moratorium applies County-wide and it covers the 20 cities in San Mateo County, as well as the unincorporated areas of the County. The emergency regulation takes effect immediately and, unless extended by the Board of Supervisors, the emergency regulation will expire on May 31, 2020. Tenants will have up to 180 days after the expiration of the emergency regulation to pay the delayed rents that were not paid while the emergency regulation was in effect.

For details about the regulation, please visit: https://housing.smcgov.org/covid-19-smc-eviction-regulations

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What is Open?

What's open?

These essential services will remain open:

  • City/County government services: police stations, fire stations, hospitals/clinics and healthcare operations, jails, courts, garbage/sanitation, transportation including BART and Caltrain (use of public transportation is limited to essential required travel only), utilities (water, power and gas), and city offices
  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
  • Hardware stores/plumbers/electricians and those who provide services necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Banks
  • Community benefit organizations on a case-by-case basis
  • Laundromats/laundry services
  • Cemeteries

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What Travel is Allowed?

A family member recently passed away. Can I travel to deal with after-death arrangements?

We are sorry for your loss. Yes, you can do so under the Order.

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My home environment is abusive, do I still have to shelter in place?

No, we want you to be safe and healthy. If your home environment is abusive, we encourage you to find a safe space. Please contact CORA at 800-300-1080 (operated 24 hours a day) for additional information regarding safe and supportive housing.

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Can I travel to my second home?

No. For your health and safety and that of the community, we need to help each other fight the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home.

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What if I work in a different county that is not implementing this type of order?

Travel to and from San Mateo County is allowed for purposes of performing essential life functions. If you work in a county that is not implementing similar restrictions and are required to go for work, please practice strong hygiene and social distancing while at work and comply with the order while in San Mateo County.

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Can I use ride share or on-demand service or a taxi?

Yes, but only for essential travel.

Do you best to take social distancing precautions: cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze, use hand sanitizer, and wash your hands before and after rides, etc.

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Can I take public transport (bus, subway, train)?

Yes, but only for essential travel.

Public transit will continue to operate on a limited basis. When using public transport, you should maintain at least 6 feet, two to three steps away, including if you are on the bus or on trains.

You want to help everyone be able to practice social distancing. Therefore, it’s important to only take public transportation for essential activities.

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What Activities Are Allowed?

Can I get my pet groomed at a store that primarily provides pet food and supplies?

It is strongly discouraged, but would be allowed only if (1) the dog grooming services were provided as an auxiliary service by an essential business such as a pet food store, and (2) the sole purpose of the trip was not dog grooming. To be clear, dog grooming is not in itself an essential business. Under the County’s Order, essential businesses are not prohibited from selling non-essential items or providing non-essential services.* However, the Order does not allow people to leave their homes for the purpose of obtaining unnecessary goods and services. As an example, if you go to the grocery store to buy food and also end up purchasing books or clothing, that is permitted. However, you cannot travel to a grocery store for the sole purpose of purchasing non-essential goods or services. Individuals should also consider whether they should jeopardize the safety of themselves, their households or the community by engaging in activities that, while allowed, are unnecessary and may increase the likelihood of transmission.

* A business that only tangentially offers products and/or services that support essential activities does not qualify as an Essential Business. Businesses should consider what their primary business is and whether it provides significant support to answer whether they should continue to operate.

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What if I need to move my business from one facility to another?

The Order allows essential businesses to move from one facility to another if the move is necessary to continue its operations or for safety, habitability or sanitation reasons. Non-essential business can move if it is necessary to continue minimum business operations or for safety, habitability or sanitation reasons. Moving companies can facilitate permissible moves. Moves for any other reason should be deferred.

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Can I travel to donate blood and/or plasma?

Yes, blood banks are considered Healthcare Operations so that is allowed under the Order.

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Can I still go to the post office or private mailbox to pick up my mail?

Yes, that is allowed under the Order as long as you comply with Social Distancing requirements.

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Can I drive around for fun and/or just to get out of the house?

No, it is not allowed under the Order.

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I have my student's driving permit. Now that there are less cars on the road, is it okay if I practice driving during this time? I would be alone in the car and would not interact with anyone outside the car.

No, it is not allowed under the Order. It is not considered an essential activity and will ultimately result in more contact and interaction (you will need to get gas and might need car repairs, etc).

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Can I socialize with friends indoors if we stay 6 feet apart?

No, it is not an essential activity and is not allowed under the Order.

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Can I leave home to care for my elderly parents or friends who require assistance to care for themselves? Or a friend or family member who has disabilities?

Yes. Be sure that you protect them and you by following social distancing guidelines such as washing hands before and after, using hand sanitizer, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance when possible, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue.

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I don’t have a washer/dryer in my home. Can I leave to do laundry?

Yes, you can go to a laundromat, dry cleaners, and other laundry service providers.

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Can my family go camping during the order?

No. Camping is not permitted under the Order as it is not an essential activity. Although it is an outdoor activity, we are asking people to shelter at home to reduce the likelihood of transmission. Camping is not the act of sheltering at home.

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Can I move my home?

Moving is generally discouraged as it is not an essential activity. However, a residential move is allowed under the following circumstances, which would be considered essential travel:

  • If you had already completed the purchase of a new home prior to the issuance of the Order
  • If you were already in the process of buying a home (i.e., in escrow) prior to the issuance of the Order
  • If you signed a lease prior to the issuance of the Order
  • If you need to move because of safety (i.e., to avoid domestic violence, child abuse, etc.), sanitation, or habitability reasons
  • If you need to move to avoid homelessness

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CAN I VISIT LOVED ONES IN THE HOSPITAL, NURSING HOME, SKILLED NURSING FACILITY, OR OTHER RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITY?

It is strongly recommended that you do not go to a hospital unless you are seeking emergency medical attention or accompanying a minor who is under 18 years old or someone who is developmentally disabled and needs assistance.

Please use alternative ways to communicate with loved ones at nursing homes and residential care facilities. Like facetime and texting. The residents at those locations are the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

If you need to know more, please contact the facility you want to visit by phone before you leave.

This is difficult, but it is necessary in order to protect hospital staff and other patients.

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I have a citizenship test. Can I still go take my test?

Essential government functions are determined by the government entity that has jurisdiction. In this case, the federal government will determine whether citizenship tests are going forward. Please contact the appropriate government agency administering the test to determine whether you should appear. If required to appear, practice strong hygiene and social distancing.

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Do I have to report to jury duty?

The courts are under the jurisdiction of the State of California. Please call the number on your jury service form for instructions as to whether you should appear. If required to appear, practice strong hygiene and social distancing.

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How do I prove that I am allowed to be outside?

The order contemplates that citizens will adhere to their civic duty and follow the order for the greater good of the community and comply with the Order. At this time there is no requirement of proof that you are allowed to be outside your residence.

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DOES THE ORDER PREVENT PEOPLE OVER AGE 65 FROM WORKING?

No, employees over the age of 65 are not prohibited from working under the Order if they are performing Essential Activities. The Order does strongly urge (but does not require) persons in high-risk categories to stay in their residence to the extent possible.

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Can I leave home to visit friends or family members if there is no urgent need?

No. For your safety as well as their safety, we need to help each other fight the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home.

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What can't I do?

  • You cannot engage in group activities in person with others.
  • You cannot have dinner parties. You cannot invite friends over to your home to hang out.
  • You cannot go to bars or nightclubs.
  • You cannot go to a nail salon or get your hair cut by a stylist or barber.
  • You cannot go shopping for non-essential goods.
  • You cannot take unnecessary trips on public transport or in your car or motorbike.

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CAN PERSONAL TRAINERS TRAIN AT CLIENT’S HOME? WHAT ABOUT OUTDOORS?

Personal training, even outdoors and with a single client, is not allowed.

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Can I go buy pet food or take my pet to the vet?

Can I go for a walk in my neighborhood?

Yes, but perform social distancing

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Can I still go to church, synagogue, or mosque?

No. Places of worship have not been exempted as essential activities under the order. Places of worship can still provide services listed in the order as essential such as food banks and funerals.

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Can religious organizations have people come in to set up virtual services?

Yes, this activity would be permitted so long as it complies with the Order’s Social Distancing requirements. The County’s Order* allows businesses to continue Minimum Basic Operations and indicates that employees can, while complying with Social Distancing requirements, undertake activities that will facilitate remote work.

* Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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CAN A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE POOL STAY OPEN?

IS RECREATIONAL BIKING OK?

Yes, recreational biking for health qualifies as an Essential Activity and would be allowed under the Order so long as Social Distancing Requirements are met (i.e., maintaining at least six-foot social distance from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty second as frequently as possible, or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces (like the bike after service), and not shaking hands.

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WHAT SPORTS CAN I PLAY?

You can engage in certain activities outdoors, but you should not play sports indoors or play team sports. Sports that are permitted (as long as you maintain at least six feet from anyone else and don’t share equipment):

  • yoga on your own (no sharing blocks or mats)
  • running alone or with others with distance
  • riding your bike (alone/with distance)
  • walking (alone/with distance)
  • stretching
  • swimming in the ocean or in your own pool/hot tub
  • shooting baskets by yourself, or hitting a tennis ball against a backboard
  • NO activities where you share a ball back and forth.

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My child is away at college. Can I go pick them up and return home?

My wedding is scheduled next week at my church, can it still go on?

I OWN A STORE, CAN I PICK UP MY MAIL FROM MY STORE?

The County’s Order* allows for Minimum Basic Operations while complying with Social Distancing requirements that would facilitate and enable employees to work remotely from their residences. If picking up the mail is necessary for that purpose, it is allowed under the Order.

* Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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WHAT DO I DO IF MY EMPLOYER REQUIRES ME TO GO TO WORK?

This response addresses two questions. First, is your employer permitted to continue operations under the Order? Second, are you in violation of the Order if you work?

Regarding the first question, many private businesses are not permitted to operate under the County’s Order. Essential Businesses, as defined in the Order, are allowed (and encouraged) to continue operating. If your employer is not an Essential Business, your employer should not be asking you to go to work, except to sustain Minimum Basic Operations, as that term is defined in the County’s Order*. Examples of Essential Businesses include: gas stations, pharmacies, business that sell food (e.g., grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants), hardware stores/plumbers, some construction, banks, and laundromats/laundry services. There are many others. Please refer to the Order for a complete description of Essential Businesses and these FAQs for specific questions about whether certain businesses are essential. It can be complicated, and it is up to your employer to decide whether it is an Essential Business and what is necessary for Minimum Basic Operations.

Regarding the second question, we would not expect you to be cited or arrested if you are simply following your employer’s direction to work. If your employer permits you to work from home, that is not a violation of the Order. But if you believe your employer is violating the Order and you do not wish to work, you can consider contacting a lawyer. If you are sick, you should seek medical advice

* Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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CAN I VOLUNTEER?

People can volunteer for organizations allowed to operate under the Order, e.g., businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals. But volunteers should still adhere to Social Distancing Requirements as described in the Order (like staying 6 feet apart, hand washing/sanitizing, cleaning high-touch surface areas) and any other protocols the volunteer service organization has put in place. It is highly recommended that high risk populations (like persons over 60 years old or persons with underlying health conditions, etc.) should stay at home. If a person has a fever, a cough, and shortness of breath, they should consult with a medical professional

The following organizations in San Mateo County have indicated that they are looking for volunteers.

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What if I’m in a line and there isn’t six feet between me and others?

You should still try to maintain at least six feet between you and others at all times. If you are engaged in an essential activity or essential business and you cannot maintain a six-foot distance, do your best to keep the duration short.

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Can I still go to my substance abuse treatment groups (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous) or other group counseling sessions?

All participants in group counseling services should attend meetings remotely. If that is not possible, participation may occur in-person, provided that there is compliance with the social distancing requirements set forth in the County’s Order, including maintaining at least 6 foot distance between individuals and other precautions.

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Can I go to a restaurant, café, coffee or tea shop, ice cream shop, or other foodservice location?

Yes, but only to pick up food. You cannot dine, eat, or drink in or around the facility.

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Can I still order the things I need online and have them delivered to my residence?

Yes. Businesses that deliver food or goods directly to residences are “essential businesses” that may continue to operate.

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Healthcare and Medicine

CAN I TAKE SICK LEAVE?

If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you may be able to file a claim for Disability Insurance. You can find information here: https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm

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What should I do if I’m sick and need to go to the hospital or a medical provider? How can I protect others?

If possible, walk or drive yourself to the healthcare. If someone else in your home is sick and can drop you off, that is another good option. You want to try to avoid exposing others to any germs you have, especially if you are seriously ill.

If you have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like a surgical mask or N-95 mask, you can wear that to prevent exposing others. If you don’t have that, you could use a temporary method such as wrapping a clean scarf around your mouth and nose to try to reduce droplets when you cough and sneeze.

Although this is not an approved method, it is something you can do to avoid exposing others. Just do the best you can.

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CAN A COMPANY THAT COLLECTS UNWANTED MEDICINE FROM RESIDENTS THROUGH COLLECTION KIOSKS LOCATED AT PHARMACIES, HOSPITALS, CLINICS, AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES IN THE COUNTY OF SAN MATEO CONTINUE?

Yes. The operation of picking up medication and properly disposing of the medication would fall under a healthcare operation, and therefore is an essential business that can continue.

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MY FAMILY MEMBER IS SICK, CAN I GET SICK LEAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THEM?

If you’re unable to work because you are caring for a sick or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you may be able to file a claim for Paid Family Leave. You can find information here: https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm

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WHAT IF I NEED TO GET HEALTHCARE FROM MY MEDICAL PROVIDER?

You can still get your health needs addressed under the County’s Order.

  • If you are feeling sick, please first call your doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center.
  • Do not go to the emergency room of a hospital unless you are having an actual emergency.

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CAN I PICK UP MY PRESCRIPTIONS?

Yes. You can also get them delivered to you.

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I RECEIVE MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT. CAN I STILL GO TO THEIR OFFICE?

You should try to receive service via telephone or teleconferencing. If that is not possible, participation may occur in-person, provided that there is compliance with the social distancing requirements set forth in the County’s Order, including maintaining at least 6 foot distance between individuals and other precautions.

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Caring for Children

CAN BABY SITTERS AND NANNIES KEEP WORKING AND AM I ALLOWED TO HIRE THEM?

Yes. The Order allows home-based care for seniors, adults, or children. This includes baby sitters and nannies. The Order also exempts service providers that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences. It would also not be advisable to use a caregiver who was caring for children in multiple households.

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HOW DOES THE ORDER AFFECT MY JOINT CUSTODY ARRANGEMENT FOR CARING FOR MY CHILDREN?

The intent of the Order is to minimize contact between groups to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, you are encouraged to find arrangements that keep households from intermingling. However, the Order allows for travel both to care for family members and comply with legal obligations. Accordingly, it allows for joint custody arrangements for the care of children.

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WHAT ABOUT CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOL?

In the County’s Order*, a facility can operate to the extent that it is providing services that enable employees exempted in the County’s Order to work. In addition, the County’s Order also requires that any childcare providers adhere to the following:

  • Must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer each day
  • No interchanging of groups of children
  • If there is more than one group at a facility, then each group must be in a separate room (no mixing of groups)
  • Each provider must stay with only one group and not change

*Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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What Businesses Can Continue Operations?

Can I continue to operate a stand-alone car wash?

Generally, no. A car wash is not an essential business. To the extent that you provide necessary services to a business that reasonably deems itself to be essential under the County’s Order, that work could continue, e.g., emergency vehicles. However, if non-essential workers get their cars washed, they would be violating the Order (as it’s not an allowed activity).

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Are short-term rentals such as Airbnb allowed?

Yes with conditions. Under the County’s Order*, short-term rentals can likely still operate to a limited extent, but renters should only use short-term rentals when necessary to essential activities. For example, if a person had to travel to the County to help build a hospital, the person could stay in a short-term rental. Another example of an allowed rental would be if a person needed to leave their home for their safety, e.g., domestic violence. Hosts should make clear to potential guests that vacations and leisure travel are not allowed under the County’s Order. Hosts should take all reasonable measures to avoid renting to individuals displaying signs of illness and should also deep-clean/disinfect between rentals.

*Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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Are the following considered “Healthcare Operations”: acupuncture, reflexology, massage therapy, chiropractic services?

These services may be provided only when a healthcare provider has determined that they are medically necessary and cannot reasonably be delayed without endangering your health or safety. Providers should conduct phone screening for COVID-19 symptoms in advance. Everyone involved should comply with Social Distancing requirements.

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Can a golf course remain open?

No, because it is not considered an essential business. Under the County’s Order*, the golf course is permitted to perform minimum basic operations to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, and/or facilitate employees working from home. All businesses that continue minimum basic operations must implement social distancing requirements as described in the County’s Order.

*The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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Can a company that builds cabinets for residential homes continue to operate?

Yes, because the company supplies services or products to an essential business (residential home construction).

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I am a locksmith, can I still provide services?

Yes, you can provide services to essential businesses. You can also provide services to non-essential persons or businesses if, without your services, there would be risk to health or safety.

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Can a self-storage facility continue to operate?

Such services can be provided to certain Essential Critical Infrastructure Sectors under the Governor’s Order. Under the County’s Order*, self-storage is not an essential business; however, the company is permitted to perform minimum basic operations to maintain the value of the businesses inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or facilitate employees working from home. Please note, while performing Minimum Basic Operations you should implement social distancing requirements as described in the County’s Order. Renting new storage units to non-essential businesses would not be allowed under the County’s Order. Cleaning storage units for health and safety and to provide services to essential businesses would be allowed.

* Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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Can stores that sell pet food stay open?

Yes, they may continue to operate under the Order.

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Can stores that repair and sell electronics (i.e., phone and laptop repair) stay open?

Yes, they may continue to operate under the Order because they serve essential businesses.

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Can jewelry shops and/or pawn shops stay open?

No, they are not allowed to continue operations under the Order

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I am a home appraiser. Can I continue to work?

Private housing construction, which includes new construction and additions to existing homes and construction projects designed to make housing habitable, is allowed under the Order. Functions that are necessary to complete construction and/or allow the home to be occupied or reoccupied are allowed under the Order, so long as Social Distancing Requirements are met. If a home is ready to be sold and completion of the sale requires an appraisal, then it would be allowed under the Order. However, if someone wants an appraisal for a purpose other than sale of their home (for example, to re-finance), that is not allowed under the order.

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Can painting of residential homes and/or businesses continue?

Painting services would be allowed under the Order if (a) the purpose of painting is to sell or lease new residences or (b) the painting is necessary to maintain the safety or habitability of residences or businesses.

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Can a company that provides cleaning/power-washing services stay open?

The company can provide services to essential businesses listed in the Order (grocery stores, essential infrastructure, street sweepings, etc) but cannot provide services to non-essential businesses such as shopping malls and clothing stores unless such services are necessary for health and safety.

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I am a home appraiser. Can I continue to work?

Private housing construction, which includes new construction and additions to existing homes and construction projects designed to make housing habitable, is allowed under the Order. Functions that are necessary to complete construction and/or allow the home to be occupied or reoccupied are allowed under the Order, so long as Social Distancing Requirements are met. If a home is ready to be sold and completion of the sale requires an appraisal, then it would be allowed under the Order. However, if someone wants an appraisal for a purpose other than sale of their home (for example, to re-finance), that is not allowed under the order.

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Can painting of residential homes and/or businesses continue?

Painting services would be allowed under the Order if (a) the purpose of painting is to sell or lease new residences or (b) the painting is necessary to maintain the safety or habitability of residences or businesses.

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My business mainly sells entertainment products but also sells a few items that can be used by people working at home. Can I still operate?

A business that only tangentially offers products and/or services that support Essential Activities or Essential Businesses cannot continue operations. Businesses should consider what their primary business is and whether it provides significant support to Essential Activities, Essential Businesses or Essential Infrastructure.

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I OPERATE A WEB-BASED DIAGNOSTIC TEST FOR CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE FOR HOSPITALS, CAN I STAY OPEN?

Yes, individuals may leave their residence to work for healthcare operations. A diagnostic test meets the definition of healthcare operations.

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I AM WORKING WITH A BIOTECH COMPANY, THAT IS WORKING ON A COVID-19 TREATMENT IN THE COUNTY AND WORRIED ABOUT THE SHELTER IN PLACE MANDATE SHUTTING DOWN OUR SUPPLIERS.

Suppliers can continue to operate to the extent required to provide essential businesses, such as yours, with necessary supplies.

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Can a biotechnology company continue operations and also continue construction?

Under the County’s Order*, a biotechnology company is an Essential Business (it is deemed a healthcare operation).

As to construction, the answer depends on the purpose of the construction. The construction is allowed if it is necessary to the company’s operations. By way of example, if the construction is necessary for the operation or maintenance of a hospital or clinic or lab, then it should continue. However, if the construction is for an office suite that could be delayed because it does not pose a health or safety risk, then it should not continue. In sum, you need to use your best business judgement to determine what construction is necessary to healthcare operations.

* Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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ARE ABA/AUTISM SERVICES EXEMPT FROM THE “SHELTER IN PLACE” ORDER?

Yes, because they under healthcare operations

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CAN THE LEGION OF HONOR STAY OPEN?

Bars cannot remain open. However, if the Legion of honor is providing to-go food, that is allowed under Section 10(f)(xiii).

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CAN FINANCIAL OPERATIONS THAT CANNOT BE DONE REMOTELY CONTINUE AT THE OFFICE?

Under the County’s Order*, a company that is not designated as an Essential Business is permitted to perform Minimum Basic Operations to maintain the value of the businesses inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or facilitate employees working from home. Please note, while performing minimum basic operations you should implement social distancing requirements as described in the County’s Order.

*Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PLUMBING, ELECTRICAL, HVAC SERVICES?

In general, yes. The size of the company does not matter. The Order allows “Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses” to continue operating. Commercial service would not be allowed unless it was for an essential business.

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CAN CAR RENTAL AGENCIES AND CAR DEALERSHIPS STILL OPERATE?

Car agencies and car dealerships can operate to the extent necessary for Essential Travel, Essential Business or Essential Activity.

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Can auto repair shops and bicycle repair shops still operate?

Yes, car repair shops and bike repair shops can operate to the extent necessary for Essential Travel, Essential Business or Essential Activity. They should comply with Social Distancing requirements and all COVID-19 safety requirements.

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I OWN A GUN STORE. CAN I STAY OPEN?

No. Gun stores do not meet the definition of Essential Business as defined in the Order.

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CAN NURSERIES AND FLOWER SHOPS REMAIN OPEN?

No, it is not an essential business.

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IS A DOG GROOMING BUSINESS ALLOWED TO REMAIN OPEN?

No, dog grooming is not an essential business.

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CAN A HOUSEKEEPER KEEP WORKING AND AM I ALLOWED TO HIRE THEM?

No, in general, housekeeping would not be allowed. If a housekeeper were required for the continued health and safety of a residence, they may be exempt from the Order. But activities beyond those necessary for health and safety are not permitted.

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I AM A FISHERMAN; CAN I STILL GO FISH?

Yes, if you are in the business of supplying fish to other establishments.

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ARE GARDENING SERVICES ALLOWED TO CONTINUE?

The Order does not exempt gardeners generally. Certain work might be ok—for example—to maintain the safety of the residence. But basic regular garden maintenance for the purpose of making the property look nicer would not be.

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I OPERATE A LANDSCAPE BUSINESS AND THE DEVELOPER WANTS US TO FINISH THE LANDSCAPING SO THE HOME CAN SELL. IS THAT OK?

Probably not. If the house has already been sold and the new owners cannot move in without the landscaping being.

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I OWN A BUSINESS, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?

Under the County’s Order*, if you are not an Essential Business, you must close. However, you are permitted to perform Minimum Basic Operations to maintain the value of the businesses inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or facilitate employees working from home. Please note, while performing minimum basic operations you should implement social distancing requirements as described in the County’s Order.

*Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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I run an Essential Business, as defined by the Order. Do I need to get an official letter of authorization from the County to operate?

No. If your business is on the list of Essential Businesses provided in the County’s Order*, then you may operate it in compliance with the County’s Order. You do not need to obtain any specific authorization from the County to do so.

*Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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I AM AN UBER/LYFT DRIVER, CAN I STILL WORK?

Yes, when providing rides for essential activities or providing rides to people performing essential government functions, essential infrastructure, or essential business.

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Can liquor stores remain open?

In some circumstances, yes. The Order allows stores to stay open if they sell canned food, dry food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. However, a business that only tangentially offers products and/or services that support Essential Activities or Essential Businesses cannot continue operations. Businesses should consider what their primary business is and whether it provides significant support to Essential Activities, Essential Businesses or Essential Infrastructure. If the store remains open, the County recommends the following measures:

  • Designate shopping times for at risk populations (seniors, pregnant people, and people with underlying health conditions);
  • Limit the amount of people in a store at once so that social distancing is possible; Implement a line system with social distancing;
  • Shorten hours to allow for additional cleaning and re-stocking;
  • Implement an organized line system where people are spaced at least a few feet apart (ideally 6 feet);
  • Implement purchase limits on high-demand items (toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer)
  • Restrict the purchase of highly sought after items;
  • Cease sampling (but you can still operate a bakery and a deli);
  • Increase security; and
  • Offer pick up or deliveries of grocery items.

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I OPERATE A FOOD BANK THAT SERVICES DINNER. CAN I STILL OPERATE?

Yes, but have the food to go (not a buffet) and implement good hygiene and social distancing practices.

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CAN WORKERS STILL GO OUT TO CHECK THE WATER PRESSURE AT A GAS STATION?

Yes, the operation and maintenance of water is essential infrastructure.

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We run a small management firm, performing administrative and accounting duties, for local homeowners’ associations. Can we continue to operate?

This is not an Essential Business under the County’s Order* unless you are providing professional services that are necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities.

Under the County’s Order*, a company that is not designated as an Essential Business is permitted to perform Minimum Basic Operations to maintain the value of the businesses inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or facilitate employees working from home. Please note, while performing minimum basic operations you should implement social distancing requirements as described in the County’s Order.

*Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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NEIGHBORS ARE HAVING PEOPLE TRIMMING TREES, CLEANING OUT GUTTERS.

Gardeners are not allowed to work under the order. However, some services may be allowed if they are for the health or safety of the resident.

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ARE CANNABIS STORES ALLOWED TO CONTINUE OPERATIONS?

Yes, licensed cannabis stores may continue operations. Lawful deliveries to customers at a residential location are also not restricted by the Order. Licensed cannabis businesses that support retail stores or delivery services (such as cultivation, processing, manufacturing) can also continue to operate. Stores that simply sell paraphernalia may not continue operations. In all cases, social distancing rules should be followed, including six-foot separation and frequent hand washing.

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CAN CEMETERIES STAY OPEN?

Yes with conditions. All businesses that are involved with human remains (funeral homes, cemeteries, mortuaries, crematoriums, etc) may continue operations (handling of human remains) as a health and safety exception to the Order. Burial services with no more than 10 immediate family members are permitted as long as all participants comply with Social Distancing and other Covid-19 protective measures.

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What if I have a cafeteria at my worksite. Can it continue to operate to serve workers who are carrying out work exempted in the Order?

The cafeteria can operate like other food facilities and prepare food for the remaining employees, so long as the employees take the food away and do not eat it in the cafeteria. The cafeteria should follow the social distancing requirements in the County’s Order.

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Can my company continue to provide janitorial services?

Under the County’s Order*, janitorial services can be provided to essential businesses. You can also provide services to non-essential businesses if, without your services, there would be risk to health or safety.

*Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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Construction

I have a construction project that will sustain damage if I do not continue work on it. Can I complete the project if it is not otherwise allowed under the Order?

The County’s Order* allows for Minimum Basic Operations at non-essential construction sites. You may send employees to the construction site to secure the site and to ensure that it does not sustain damage. You may only continue construction on the project to the extent it is necessary to prevent damage to the project, e.g. completing a roof or ensuring that there is proper drainage after grading has been completed, or if necessary for public safety or sanitation.

For any of these activities, Social Distancing Requirements must be followed to the greatest extent feasible.

*Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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APARTMENT COMPLEX IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION, IS THAT OK?

Yes, it's specifically exempted under the Order.

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CAN CONSTRUCTION OF A SEWER LINE CONTINUE EVEN IF WE CAN’T MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING BECAUSE OF THE WORK?

Yes, it is essential infrastructure. Use your best business judgement and operate as safely as you can.

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CAN A COMPANY THAT IS CONSTRUCTING 185 UNITS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING PERFORM DRILLING/EXCAVATION IN CONNECTION WITH THE CONSTRUCTION?

Yes, if it is necessary as part of the construction to make the housing livable.

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CAN A HOSPITAL CONTINUE CONSTRUCTION (ALREADY IN PROGRESS) TO BUILD A HEALTH CARE FACILITY?

The answer depends on the purpose of the construction. The construction is allowed if it is necessary to healthcare operations. By way of example, if the construction is necessary for the operation or maintenance of a hospital or clinic, then it should continue. However, if the construction is for an office suite that could be delayed because it does not pose a health or safety risk, then it should not continue. In sum, you will have to use your best business judgement to determine what construction is necessary to healthcare operations.

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IF A HOME BUILDER STILL SCHEDULES A NEW HOME WALKTHROUGH WHILE THIS ORDER IS IN PLACE, ARE THEY ACTING IN VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER?

Private housing construction, which includes new construction and additions to existing homes and construction projects designed to make housing habitable, is allowed under the Order. If the walkthrough is an essential step in completing the construction project/allowing the home to be occupied or reoccupied, it would be considered an essential function and be authorized under the Order, so long as Social Distancing Requirements are met. However, if the purpose of the walkthrough is to sell the home to potential buyers, it would not be allowed under the Order.

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I RUN A CONSTRUCTION COMPANY THAT BUILDS AFFORDABLE AND MARKET RATE HOUSING. CAN WE CONTINUE TO BUILD NEW UNITS?

Yes. Creation of new housing units, including both market rate and affordable housing units, is allowed under the Order. The Order permits construction projects to proceed and new ones to begin if they contribute new residential housing stock to meet the County’s critical need for additional housing supply.

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MY COMPANY MANUFACTURERS WINDOWS AND DOORS FOR SINGLE FAMILY AND MULTI-FAMILY HOMES IN THE BAY AREA. CAN I CONTINUE OPERATIONS?

Yes, because the company supplies services or products to an essential business (residential home construction). Please comply with Social Distancing requirements.

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I AM MIDWAY THROUGH A REMODEL. CAN MY CONSTRUCTION PROJECT CONTINUE?

Yes. Residential renovation projects of any kind that are currently underway may continue if necessary to a safe, sanitary, and functional home. Likewise, residential remodeling projects that are partly completed may continue if delaying completion would pose a safety, security, or sanitation risk to residents or impact the habitability of the residence.

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I HAVE A CONTRACTOR SCHEDULED TO BEGIN A REMODEL NEXT WEEK. CAN I GO AHEAD WITH THIS PROJECT?

You must defer your remodel or renovation project unless it is necessary to restore your home to a safe, sanitary, and habitable space.

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IS GENERAL COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION ALLOWED?

No, not generally. Commercial construction is allowed if it is necessary to healthcare operations as defined in the County’s Order*. But that exception is limited to actual healthcare operations. By way of example, if the construction is necessary for the operation or maintenance of a hospital or clinic or lab, than it should continue. However, if the construction is for an office suite not directly related to the delivery of care, then it should not continue. Commercial construction also allowed if it is necessary to the continued operation or maintenance of “essential infrastructure,” as those terms are defined in the County’s Order.

Minimum Basic Operations are permitted at all construction sites. You may send employees to the construction site to secure the site and to ensure that it does not sustain damage.

For any of these activities, Social Distancing Requirements must be followed to the greatest extent feasible.

*Please note that we are providing our interpretation of the County’s Order. The Governor’s Order may be more restrictive on this subject. While we leave interpretation of the Governor’s Order to the Governor, you should be cautious before engaging in this activity and ensure that you are complying with the Governor’s Order for those areas where it is more restrictive than the County’s Order.

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Food Delivery Guidelines

Guidance for Local Delivery of Food and Non-Food Items

San Mateo County has issued this guidance for local delivery of food (including both packaged and prepared food items) and non-food items to locations within San Mateo County, including but not limited to shopping and delivery services such as GrubHub, UberEats, PostMates, DoorDash, Eat24, Amazon Fresh, Instacart, and similar shopping and delivery services, Essential Businesses that provide delivery services within San Mateo County, including restaurants and other retailers that qualify as Essential Businesses, and core service agencies participating in food delivery as part of the COVID-19 response efforts. Entities providing such services are encouraged to develop their own policies and procedures for operations that meet or exceed the protections provided under these guidelines. Nothing in this guidance is intended to supersede or modify the Health Officer’s Order to Shelter in Place issued March 16, 2020.

  • All workers must adhere to the Social Distancing Requirements (staying 6 feet apart, adequately washing/sanitizing hands, cleaning high-touch surfaces);
  • Containers and surfaces used in the delivery need to be wiped down between each delivery with disinfectant;
  • Delivery must be conducted without person-to-person contact, maintaining 6 feet or more of distance from other persons;
  • All prepared food items other than drinks should be delivered in sealed or stapled bags or similar containers, and drinks should be delivered in unopened bottles or cartons or cups with secure lids.
  • Persons who deliver food and non-food items should thoroughly wash hands or use hand sanitizer between each delivery locations;
  • Product(s) should be placed for transportation in a sanitized receptacle, such as a plastic bin in the vehicle used for transport; and
  • Payment for delivery should be done virtually (like VenMo, PayPal, Apple Pay, or a credit/debit card) to the greatest extent possible. If the use of cash is unavoidable, the exchange of cash should be done without breaching a 6-foot distance between individuals (for example, recipient of delivery leaves money at or near door while delivery person remains at least 6 feet away and recipient steps back 6 feet while money is picked up by delivery person).

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Mail and Package Delivery and Trucking

Guidance for Mail and Mailed Package and Parcel Delivery within San Mateo County

San Mateo County has issued this guidance for the delivery of mail, including mailed packages and parcels, within San Mateo County, such as US Mail, United Parcel Service (UPS), FedEx and DHL deliveries, and by other entities that deliver mail and mailed packages and parcels. Entities providing such services are encouraged to develop their own policies and procedures for operations that meet or exceed the protections provided under these guidelines. Nothing in this guidance is intended to supersede or modify the Health Officer’s Order to Shelter in Place issued March 16, 2020.

  • All workers must adhere to the Social Distancing Requirements (staying 6 feet apart, adequately washing/sanitizing hands, cleaning high-touch surfaces);
  • Containers and surfaces used in the deliver need to be wiped down regularly;
  • Delivery must be conducted without person to person contact, i.e. 6-feet or more distance; and
  • Persons who deliver should thoroughly wash hands or use hand sanitizer between each delivery locations.

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CAN I STILL GET DELIVERIES FROM ONLINE STORES? CAN I ORDER FROM ONLINE STORES?

Yes. The mail and other delivery services to your home can continue to function, as can food delivery services. You can place more orders from online stores. Businesses that deliver goods or services directly to residences are essential businesses that may continue to operate.

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I WORK IN AN INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING SERVICE, ARE WE INCLUDED IN SHELTER IN PLACE ORDER?

In general, businesses providing mailing and shipping services may continue operations.

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ARE TRUCKING/SHIPPING COMPANIES ALLOWED TO CONTINUE TO OPERATE?

Yes. Essential Businesses, which are exempt under the Order, include those providing mailing and shipping services, those that supply products needed for people to work from home, those that supply other Essential Businesses with supplies necessary to operate, and those that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residents. If your company provides any of those services, it would be exempt under the Order and allowed to operate.

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