SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Beginning May 4, a new stay-at-home order will be in place in the Bay Area requiring residents to continue sheltering-in-place through May 31 but multiple changes have been made.
Health officials say that while the hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19 have been stabilized, the population continues to be vulnerable to the virus.
At this time, there continues to be no effective cure or treatment for the coronavirus.
While the city of San Francisco has been ramping up testing and investigations, it is crucial that the order was extended, according to city officials.
To help make sense of what is going on, the City Attorney of San Francisco posted an updated list of answers to frequently asked questions on Wednesday, April 29.
What does the Order do?
As of May 4, 2020, there will be a new Order that replaces the existing stay-at-home
order (“May 4 Order”). The May 4 Order requires that most people continue sheltering
in their place of residence through May 31, 2020. However, the new Order makes a
number of significant changes, which are highlighted below:
- Under the new May 4 Order, all construction projects can resume, provided they
comply with the Construction Project Safety Protocols issued as part of the
- Commercial as well as residential real estate transactions are allowed to fully
resume, but with continued restrictions on in-person viewings and appointments.
- Under the new Order, childcare establishments, and other educational and
recreational programs can operate to provide care and supervision for children to
allow all persons who are working in essential businesses or outdoor businesses
or performing minimum basic operations to access childcare. All of these
operations must comply, to the greatest extent possible, with restrictions
specified in the Order, including that they be carried out in stable groups of 12 or
fewer children. This category is also subject to the State’s Shelter in Place Order, but the Health Officer will assess whether to ease childcare restrictions further in
coordination with the State and as the spread of COVID-19 is further contained.
- Outdoor Businesses (as defined in the Order and described below) are now
allowed to operate, and people are allowed to visit them to perform work or to
obtain goods, services, or supplies.
- Outdoor Businesses are those that normally operated primarily outdoors prior to
the Shelter in Place Orders, and where social distancing of at least six feet can
be maintained between all people. These include outdoor retail businesses like
nurseries, outdoor service providers like landscapers, and agricultural operations.
Outdoor businesses do not include outdoor restaurants, cafes, or bars.
Social Distancing Protocols for Businesses:
- All business facilities operating in the County, including businesses carrying out
minimum basic operations, must comply with the requirement to create a Social
Distancing Protocol. (Note: construction activities must instead comply with the
Construction Project Safety Protocols.)
- In their Social Distancing Protocols, businesses must now ensure that personnel
and customers wear face coverings when entering their facilities (except those
customers for whom face coverings are not recommended, like young
- All existing Social Distancing Protocols must be updated to reflect the new
- We encourage businesses that are not yet allowed to operate to focus on
planning to effectively implement social distancing and related measures in their
facilities so they are ready to safely reopen when allowed.
Essential Activities and Travel:
- All residential moves are now allowed to proceed.
- The new Order allows use of shared outdoor recreational facilities that do not
encourage gathering or contain high-touch equipment. However, everyone must
follow any restrictions that either state or local authorities impose. For instance,
right now, the State Shelter Order prohibits golf courses from operating.
- The Health Officer will consider easing or expanding restrictions based on
progress we collectively achieve on several key indicators described in the new
Order and referred to as the COVID-19 Indicators.
Why aren’t more businesses allowed to open?
Thanks to the collective effort and sacrifice of the 7 million residents across the Bay
Area, we have made progress in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, ensuring
our hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases and saving lives. This
progress allows us to ease some restrictions to allow lower-risk outdoor businesses and
outdoor activities to resume, so long as they strictly comply with social distancing
requirements and other protections in the Order.
The Order also adds certain business activities to the essential business list, including
construction and commercial real estate transactions—that have become critical as we
gradually head into a period of expanded economic activity in which more space to
accommodate increased social distancing will be necessary.
However, at this stage of the pandemic, we need to maintain most of the restrictions of
shelter-in-place so that we do not lose the progress we have achieved. Lifting too many
restrictions too soon could easily lead to a large surge in cases and result in avoidable
hospitalizations and deaths, and it may also lead to longer-term economic harms.
I run an “Essential Business” or “Outdoor Business” as defined by the new May 4 Order. Do I need to get an official letter of authorization from the City to operate a facility in the City?
No. If your business is covered in the list of “Essential Businesses” or “Outdoor
Businesses” in the Order, then you may operate your business from a facility in San
Francisco so long as you create, post, and implement a Social Distancing Protocol for
each facility using the template attached to the Order. You do not need to obtain any
specific authorization from the City to run your business. The City does not issue
written determinations or authorizations.
I heard that there is a statewide shelter-in-place order. Do I still need to comply with San Francisco’s Order?
Yes. In addition to the statewide order, the City Health Officer’s Order remains in effect.
All residents must comply with the restrictions in both orders. If the restrictions in the
two orders are different, you must comply with the stricter of the two orders.
What if I am homeless?
Persons experiencing homelessness are exempt from the Order’s requirement that they
shelter in place in their residence and its prohibition against all travel other than
essential travel. However, individuals staying in homeless shelters should stay there,
and all shelter guests should wash hands frequently, and practice social distancing.
Unsheltered people living in public spaces, tents, in vehicles, or otherwise unsheltered,
should use the City’s public restrooms and newly expanded hand-washing stations
frequently, and should also practice social distancing. The Order also urges the City to
keep 12×12-foot spacing around tents and only one person per tent.
Can I leave home to visit friends or family members in another household or living unit if there is no urgent need or I am not performing an essential activity?
No. For your safety as well as their safety, you are not allowed to visit friends or family
members outside your own household. We need to help each other fight the spread of
COVID-19 by staying at home.
Am I allowed to go to a mail drop off/post office to mail packages?
Yes. Businesses that provide mailing and shipping services are essential businesses
within the meaning of the Order, and travel to essential businesses is permitted under
the Order. But individuals are urged to delay all non-essential shipping and must
comply with social distancing requirements during any permitted outings.
Should I stock up on food, necessities like toilet paper, and on medicines?
No. You will continue to be able to purchase these items. Stores selling necessary
items like grocery stores, pharmacies, and hardware stores will stay open. Please
continue to buy normal quantities of these items on the same schedule you normally
follow. This will ensure that there is enough for everyone.
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.
These facilities can also deliver.
What about common areas in apartments, like shared laundry rooms, that residents need to access for sanitation needs?
Apartment residents should be allowed to access facilities that are required for
household cleaning and sanitation needs. Owners of apartment buildings must
enhance cleaning of high-touch surfaces in these areas, and residents must observe all
social distancing requirements in the Order, including maintaining at least 6 feet of
separation from other people who are not part of their own household; washing their
hands frequently for at least 20 seconds before and after use of the facilities (or using
hand sanitizer); coughing or sneezing into a tissue or sleeve (not their hands); wearing
a face covering when out in public; and avoiding using the laundry facility if they are
What are the reasons that someone is allowed not to wear a face covering in an essential business or when around other people who are not members of their own household?
The following are exceptions to the requirements for wearing a face covering when in
essential businesses or when other people are around:
- A child 12 years old or younger;
- A medical professional has advised you that wearing a face covering may pose a risk
to your health, and you have documentation of that advisement;
- Wearing a face covering would create a risk to you related to your work as determined
by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines;
- You have trouble breathing;
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- You are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering
- You have a physical disability that prevents you from wearing a face covering;
- If you are deaf and use facial and mouth movements as part of communication, you
can remove your mask while signing.
Do I need to wear a face covering when running or bicycling outside?
The Order recommends that you take steps to limit the droplets that you spread when
exercising. When running, biking, or doing other activities outside, you may spread
droplets farther than normal. This makes the 6-foot physical distance less
adequate. You should avoid running or riding directly in front of or behind people or
through groups of people so you don’t expose yourself or others to droplets. You
should have a face covering on you and wear it when you may be too close to others
while engaged in these activities.
What should I do if I’m sick? If I or a family member need immediate medical attention, can I leave home to go to the doctor or hospital?
Call 911 or go to an emergency room if you are experiencing a medical emergency. If
you are feeling sick, first call your doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center
before going to the hospital. Do not go to the emergency room of a hospital unless you
are having an actual emergency. But you can and should seek medical advice if you or
a family member is sick. If it is not an emergency, please contact your primary care
provider to determine next steps. Also, you can check online resources to help you
assess symptoms if you are worried about whether you or a loved one has COVID-19.
You should check https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html for more
What should I do if I am experiencing domestic violence?
In an emergency, call 911. If it is not safe to call 911, you can text to 911. Other nonemergency resources include:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
- W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Crisis Line: 415-864-4722
- La Casa de las Madres Crisis Line (Adult Line): 1-877-503-1850
- La Casa de las Madres Crisis Line (Teen Line): 1-877-923-0700
- Asian Women’s Shelter Crisis Line: 1-877-751-0880
- Saint Vincent de Paul Society—Riley Center Crisis Line: 415-255-0165
Additionally, the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit has an on-call
team 24/7 and is reachable at 415-553-9225.
Can and should I donate blood if I am healthy?
Yes, blood banks, blood donation centers, and blood drives are exempt health care
operations. If you are healthy and do not have COVID-19 symptoms, you are
encouraged to donate. The need for adequate blood donations from healthy people is
Can I visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility?
Generally, no. There are limited exceptions, such as if you are going to the hospital
with a minor who is under 18 years old or someone who is developmentally disabled
and needs assistance. For most other situations, other existing Orders of the Health
Officer addressing this emergency prohibit non-necessary visitation to these kinds of
facilities. 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.
Are childcare facilities allowed to operate?
As of May 4, childcare establishments, and schools or recreational institutions can
operate to provide childcare or supervision to enable people to work for an essential
business or outdoor businesses, perform minimum basic operations for a business, or
work as an essential governmental employee.
Childcare facilities need to comply with the following conditions in the Order to the
- Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer (“stable” means that
the same 12 or fewer children are in the same group each day).
- Children shall not change from one group to another.
- If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group shall be
in a separate room. Groups shall not mix with each other.
- Childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children.
I am a nanny. Will I get in trouble if I go to work?
You won’t get in trouble if you go to work. The Order allows nannies and childcare
providers caring for a child in the child’s own home to continue working.
What if my business is not considered an essential business or (as of May 4) an outdoor business? Does this Order require that I shut down my business facility?
Yes, it does, except for the following “Minimum Basic Operations,” which are defined in
the following excerpt from the Order:
- The minimum necessary activities to maintain and protect the value of the
business’s inventory and facilities; ensure security, safety, and sanitation;
process payroll and employee benefits; provide for the delivery of existing
inventory directly to residences or businesses; and related functions. For
clarity, this section does not permit businesses to provide curbside pickup to
- The minimum necessary activities to facilitate owners, employees, and
contractors of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their
residences, and to ensure that the business can deliver its service remotely.
Other than to maintain minimum basic operations, your employees can only work
remotely from their residences. Any employees who are onsite must strictly follow the
Order’s social distancing requirements, including maintaining a distance of six feet from
one another (unless incompatible with the job duty), frequently washing hands with soap
and water for at least 20 seconds or using an effective hand sanitizer, covering coughs
and sneezes, wearing a face covering, and avoiding all social interaction outside the
household when sick with a fever or cough.
I have been told by City officials that my business has to temporarily shut down or change its operations under the Order. Can I appeal this decision?
A business can request reconsideration of a directive to temporarily shut down or
change its operations by emailing HealthOrderAppeals@sfcityatty.org. The email
should include: the name of the business and its street address; the business’s
manager/contact (along with a direct telephone number and email address); the
directive the business was given and the name of the City official who communicated it
to the business; and an explanation of why the business believes the directive was mistaken, with reference(s) to the relevant provision(s) of the San Francisco Health
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