Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2020  
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  New, stricter Bay Area COVID-19 guidelines
March 16, 2020

County Health Officers issued mandatory restrictions to stop virus spread.

The Health Officers have taken these new steps to slow the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus. Without this restrictive action, our healthcare systems may become overwhelmed.

While our hospitals are implementing their "surge" plans to handle significant increases in patients, their capacity is limited. As the virus infects more people, and epidemiological predictions say it will get worse before it gets better, healthcare systems face overload.

I know these measures are drastic and will impact millions of people in very challenging and stressful ways. The Health Officers strongly believe that if we don't take these steps now, our situation will become worse, with more serious illness and death.

We are advocating for our State and Federal governments to take emergency action to help vulnerable families financially impacted by these measures, such as assistance with basics--food and housing. This includes eviction protection.

Here are the main provisions of the Health Order:

All residents should shelter at home and leave only for "essential activities" or "essential travel" which include:

  *   Performing tasks essential to their family's health and safety, including their pets
  *   Obtaining necessary services/supplies, including groceries
  *   Engaging in outdoor activities without coming into close contact with others
  *   Performing work at an "essential business" (defined below) or to carry out activities permitted in the Health Order
  *   Obtaining services at any healthcare facility (including veterinary care but not gyms)
  *   Travel to obtain or deliver goods or services to households or other entities
  *   Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons. Including pets.
  *   Travel to educational institutions to receive materials for distance learning or meals and other related services
  *   Travel related to providing or accessing services exempted in the order

All non-essential businesses shall cease operation except to maintain "minimum basic operations". Essential businesses include:

  *   Healthcare operations
  *   Grocery stores (including stores like Target that sell both grocery and non-grocery items)
  *   Pharmacies and healthcare supply stores
  *   Gas stations, auto supply and repair
  *   Banks and financial institutions
  *   Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, exterminators and other services to maintain safety and sanitation and essential operations of homes and businesses
  *   Educational institutions for purposes of facilitating distance learning
  *   Laundromats and dry cleaners
  *   Restaurants and prepared food facilities, but only for delivery or carry out (no table service)
  *   Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers for essential activities
  *   Businesses that supply other businesses providing products or services exempted in the Health Order
  *   Shipping and mailing services including PO boxes
  *   Businesses that deliver goods and services directly to residences
  *   Childcare facilities to enable employees exempted in the Order to work
  *   Home-based care and residential facilities for seniors, adults, children
  *   Essential governmental functions and essential infrastructure
  *   Newspapers, TV, and other media

Other important points:

  *   All gatherings of any number are prohibited except as needed to carry out essential activities, maintain operation of essential businesses, or for essential governmental functions.
  *   All first responders, law enforcement personnel and those performing essential governmental functions are exempt from the Order.
  *   This Order does not apply to the operations of Federal and State agencies, this includes airports.
  *   Public transit remains open to allow people to engage in "essential travel".
  *   Each local governmental entity shall identify which employees are needed to continue providing essential governmental functions.