News Flash

Menlo Park City News

Posted on: December 16, 2020

San Mateo County now under regional stay at home order as virus cases, hospitalizations rise

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge and ICU capacity declines, San Mateo and 10 other Bay Area counties are under a mandatory regional stay at home order that takes effect Thursday, Dec. 17, at 11:59 p.m.

The order prohibits private gatherings of any size, except for outdoor church services and political demonstrations. Restaurants must stop offering in-person dining and can offer only takeout and delivery.

Many businesses and activities must close, including salons and barbershops. Retail can remain open at 20 percent capacity. Nonessential travel and using hotels or short-term rentals for leisure is banned.

The state of California announced the order as regional ICU bed capacity fell below 15 percent, a trigger threshold. The order intends to prevent crowding and mingling among non-household members and overwhelming the health care system.

The order is less sweeping than the lockdowns ordered in the spring. People can continue with essential activities like going to the doctor, buying groceries and picking up takeout food.

The rules will remain in effect for at least three weeks.

Outdoor activities like walking, hiking, cycling and outdoor religious ceremonies are permitted. 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.

All retail businesses are limited to 20 percent capacity (35 percent for stand-alone grocery stores) with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores.

Cases surging

As of Tuesday, December 15, the County has reported 18,907 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. Countywide deaths due to COVID-19 now stand at 183.

The County repeatedly recorded new single-day highs for case counts this month. Between December 9-15, the County saw 2,602 new lab-confirmed cases, a daily average of 372 cases and the most in any seven-day period. The county’s test-positivity 14-day average rose to 8.0 percent from 2.1 percent in early November.

Across the Bay Area, ICU capacity fell to 12.9 percent, according to the state's COVID-19 data dashboard.

With Bay Area ICU capacity below the 15 percent threshold, now 39.4 million Californians – about 98 percent of the population – are subject to the regional stay at home order.

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.)

The order: what’s allowed, what’s not

The regional stay at home order instructs Californians to stay home as much as possible and to stop mixing between households that can lead to COVID-19 spread. It allows access to critical services and allows outdoor activities to preserve Californians’ physical and mental health.

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

  • Critical infrastructure (when remote option is not possible)
  • Schools
  • Non-urgent medical and dental care
  • Child care and pre-K

What can stay open – with modifications – and mandated 100 percent masking and social distancing?

  • Outdoor recreational facilities
    Open for outdoor operation only to provide socially-distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise, with no food, drink or alcohol. Overnight stays at campgrounds prohibited. 
  • Retail
    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. Special hours for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems should occur.
  • Shopping centers
    Open for indoor access at 20 percent capacity, with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores.  Special hours for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems should occur. 
  • 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
    Open for takeout or delivery only
  • Offices
    Shift to remote work only, except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible
  • Places of worship and political expression
    Allow for outdoor activities only

What must close?

Under the regional stay at home order all operations in the following sectors must closed (except for operations considered part of critical infrastructure):

  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Personal care services
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums
  • Movie theaters (except drive-in)
  • Wineries, bars, breweries and distilleries (except 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:

Menlo Park COVID-19 resources

Contact: Public Engagement Manager Clay Curtin
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