Santa Clara County’s newest health order took effect. Here’s what’s new.
Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County's Health Officer, announces an amended shelter in place order for the Bay Area April 29. Photo by Katie Lauer

Santa Clara County’s latest shelter-in-place order took effect Friday, moving the South Bay into California’s second of four stages for allowing businesses and activities to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s a quick look at the major changes that went into effect.

What’s open?

All retail stores can now reopen for curbside or outdoor pickup only. Associated logistics and manufacturing businesses that support those retailers can resume work in person. Those businesses must limit personnel onsite to one worker per 300 square feet and practice social distancing, keeping everyone six feet apart.

Businesses also must provide hand sanitizer, have more detailed social distancing protocols that need to be distributed to employees and signage posted for customers.

One of the biggest changes: Cannabis dispensaries can once again sell recreational cannabis for curbside pickup. The previous health order only allowed medical cannabis sales on site and consumers were forced to use delivery services for recreational weed, angering industry leaders who said the policy is too restrictive.

Outdoor auto dealerships were allowed to remain open. For those that were closed, the order allows dealers to sell cars online, deliver them to people’s homes or operate curbside pickups, if they have direct access to a walkway, street, parking lot or alley. Gun shops can now make curbside pickup sales, too.

Outdoor museums, historical sites and gardens can also reopen, as long as visitors are restricted to outdoor areas other than restrooms. Pet grooming businesses, meanwhile, are allowed to operate if a veterinarian recommends grooming for health reasons.

Amid graduation season, car parades are now permitted, but bicycles and motorcycles can’t participate. People cannot congregate at a fixed location.

Medical services and dentists can remain open, though they must follow CDC guidelines.

What’s still not open?

Restaurants here still can’t open for dine-in, as they have in other parts of the state. The South Bay’s nightlife has also come to a halt as bars, breweries and nightclubs remain shuttered.

Churches and other religious congregations remain closed. Drive-in religious services, drive-in movie theaters and other stationary car gatherings are not allowed, either. Stores inside malls cannot reopen for curbside pickup.

Santa Clara County differs from the state when it comes to permitting offices to resume in-person. Offices that aren’t considered essential, including retail, logistics or manufacturing offices, can’t reopen. For now, Silicon Valley offices must maintain minimum basic operations while employees work from home.

Hair and nail salons remain closed.

What’s the deal with face coverings?

Employees and customers must now wear face coverings inside all businesses, a notable change from the previous order that did not require them. Public transit, however, already mandated face coverings, and that continues with the new order. Masks are also “strongly encouraged” — but not required — elsewhere in public.

What’s next?

Expanded stage two would reopen shopping centers and dine-in restaurants, but counties must attest to meeting certain public health criteria first. Santa Clara County has not yet applied for that.

Santa Clara County, and the Bay Area more broadly, are proceeding slower than the state in easing restrictions, which Newsom has supported for regions with higher prevalence of COVID-19.

While the county has made progress with controlling the virus’ spread, increasing testing and hospital capacity, Cody told lawmakers earlier this month that she fears the county will go backwards if it reopens too quickly.

“From what we understand, our epidemic is neither increasing or decreasing,” Cody said. “It’s just about staying steady, which means that if we peel back, we’re going to see an increase.”

When does the health order expire?

While the new health order effective Friday eases some restrictions, it comes with some catches and there’s no end date. It’s up to Cody to rescind or amend it.

Contact Eduardo Cuevas at [email protected] or follow @eduardomcuevas on Twitter.

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