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Bay Area counties will begin stay-at-home order on Sunday, ahead of state mandate


Five Bay Area counties on Friday announced they would impose a stay-at-home order as early as Sunday night, saying that hospitals are already so overcrowded that the time to act is now, rather than waiting for the region to pass a state threshold for a regional order.

It would be too late to act if the Bay Area’s intensive care units, as a region, waited until they fell to only 15% of capacity, which is the state’s threshold for implementing a stay-at-home order, officials said.

The orders will go into effect in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties on Sunday; in Alameda County on Monday and Marin County on Tuesday. The four other Bay Area counties — San Mateo, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties — are not part of the joint action.


“Waiting until only 15% of a region’s ICU beds are available is just too late,” said Dr. Tomás Aragon, health officer for San Francisco. “Many heavily impacted parts of our region already have less than 15% of ICU beds available, and the time to act is now.”

“We cannot wait until after we have driven off the cliff to pull the emergency brake,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health officer. “We understand the closures … will have a profound impact on our local businesses. However, if we act quickly, we can both save lives and reduce the amount of time these restrictions have to stay in place, allowing businesses and activities to reopen sooner.”

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Santa Clara County could run out of its normal supply of staff ICU beds within a week, said Dr. Grant Colfax, the director of health of San Francisco, said in a briefing. “This surge is so much more serious than we’ve seen before,” Colfax said.

The city of Berkeley, which has its own independent public health department separate from Alameda County, will also join the order.

The Bay Area counties participating in the stay-at-home order will implement the state’s regional stay-at-home order early, which closes many nonessential businesses with the exception of all retail stores, which will be capped at 20% capacity.

Here’s what closes under the order:

  • Outdoor restaurant dining
  • Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and other personal care services
  • Playgrounds
  • Outdoor cardrooms and satellite wagering and casinos
  • Outdoor museums, zoos and aquariums
  • Outdoor movie theaters
  • Outdoor wineries
  • Overnight stays at campgrounds
  • Food, drink or alcohol sales at outdoor recreational facilities

Retail would stay open, but with more limited capacity

All retail would be allowed to remain open under this order, although at a reduced capacity. Counties can impose tougher rules than the state’s.

  • Most of the Bay Area: According to state rules that apply unless superseded by tougher local rules, essential retail, like supermarkets and drug stores, had been allowed to open at 50% of capacity; nonessential retail, like other stores and malls, opened at 25% capacity. The new order would lower capacity of all retail to 20%.
  • Santa Clara County: The local, tougher limit for nonessential retail (10%) would remain in place. Essential retail capacity would fall from 25% to 20%.
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Travel and use of hotels and lodging for tourism and leisure prohibited

The new regional stay-at-home order, when effective, again prohibits hotel use for tourism, leisure and other nonessential reasons, like nonessential travel, whether it be a vacation or a road trip to see family or friends.

Specifically, it allows hotel and lodging for essential reasons only, defined as supporting “critical infrastructure sectors,” including workers in healthcare, food, agriculture, energy, utilities, transportation, communications, government operations, manufacturing, financial services and the entertainment industry.

The order would prohibit nonessential travel.

What stays open

  • Entertainment production
  • Professional sports without live audiences, except for Santa Clara County. It has its own order banning contact sports, which has forced the San Francisco 49ers to temporarily relocate their team to Arizona for its December home games
  • Schools that are already open for in-person learning can remain open
  • Outdoor areas like beaches, parks, and hiking trails
  • Medical offices, dentist offices
  • Childcare and prekindergarten
  • Restaurants for takeout and delivery service
  • Critical infrastructure sectors

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