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Public Health Order Frequently Asked Questions

Last content update:  9/21/2020

On August 28th, 2020, the State released its Blueprint for a Safer Economy (“Blueprint”), which created a tiered system of COVID-19 restrictions that all counties in California must follow. Santa Clara County is currently in Tier Two (Red) and will stay there until the State moves Santa Clara County into Tier Three (Orange) or back into Tier One (Purple). The most restrictive rules apply to Tier One, and the least restrictive rules apply to Tier Four.

As long as Santa Clara County is in Tier Two, all Tier Two restrictions will apply. As always, Santa Clara County residents and businesses must follow both the State and County Health Officer Orders, and where there is a conflict between the two, the stricter Order must be followed.

Tier Two restrictions are different from Tier One restrictions (which were previously in place) in the following ways:

  • All personal care services businesses may now operate indoors, except for specific services (like facials and face makeup application) that are still not allowed indoors because they require removal of a face covering and are too risky.
  • Indoor shopping malls may increase their capacity limit from 25% to 50% of normal capacity(or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter). Common areas must remain closed. Note that the County’s Risk Reduction Order does not allow food courts to open any indoor dining areas.
  • Retail businesses may increase their capacity limit from 25% to 50% of normal capacity (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter).
  • Libraries may increase their capacity limit from 25% to 50% of normal capacity (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter).
  • Gyms and fitness centers may now operate indoors, but they must limit capacity to 10% of normal (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter). This applies also to indoor sports and dance facilities (e.g., gymnastics, martial arts, fencing, and Zumba facilities).
  • Museums and zoos may now operate indoors, but they must limit capacity to 25% of normal (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter).

See the following charts for further information on what is allowed indoors and outdoors in Santa Clara County:

 

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Updated: September 8, 2020


The State released its Blueprint for a Safer Economy on August 28, 2020.  How is Santa Clara County affected?

The State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy (“Blueprint”) is a four-tier system where Tier One has the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions and Tier Four has the lowest.  Counties that were on the State’s “monitoring list” as of August 28, 2020, including Santa Clara County, began in Tier One with restrictions that were similar to the previous restrictions that applied to counties on the monitoring list.  The State moved Santa Clara County into Tier Two on September 8, 2020.  Tier Two restrictions are different from the previous Tier One restrictions in the following ways:

  • All personal care services businesses may now operate indoors, except for specific services (like facials and face makeup application) that are still not allowed indoors because they require removal of a face covering and are too risky.
  • Indoor shopping malls may increase their capacity limit from 25% to 50% of normal capacity (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter).  Common areas must remain closed.  Note that the County’s Risk Reduction Order does not allow food courts to open any indoor dining areas.
  • Retail businesses may increase their capacity limit from 25% to 50% or normal (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter).
  • Libraries may increase their capacity limit from 25% to 50% of normal (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter).
  • Gyms and fitness centers may now operate indoors, but they must limit capacity to 10% of normal (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter).  This applies also to indoor sports and dance facilities (e.g., gymnastics, martial arts, fencing, and Zumba facilities).
  • Museums and zoos may now operate indoors, but they must limit capacity to 25% or normal (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter).

 

The State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy​ provides an explanation of the data points the State is monitoring and how counties are moved from one tier to another.


Are there any restrictions that still apply across the entire state?

Yes, but not as many as before.  Some restrictions that used to apply statewide no longer apply to counties that are in less restrictive tiers.  For example, indoor museums used to be closed statewide, but now they are closed only in counties in Tier One.  But the State still prohibits the following activities in every single county: 

  • Adult recreational team sports.
  • Concert venues.
  • Convention centers.
  • Festivals.
  • Nightclubs.
  • Theme parks.
  • Live theater.
  • Waterparks.
  • All professional, social, or community gatherings that are not specifically permitted in a State public health directive.

 

When will Santa Clara County move out of Tier Two?

The State will determine when Santa Clara County may move out of Tier Two based on our local data.  The State has announced that it will regularly monitor each county’s data and make weekly assessments of whether a county may move out of its current tier.  In order for a county to move into a less restrictive tier, it must meet that tier’s criteria for two straight weeks.  Counties must remain in each tier for a minimum of three weeks before they can move to the next tier.  Movement between tiers is primarily determined by counties’ adjusted case rates and test positivity rates, as well as health equity measures.

Which order do I need to follow – the State’s or the County’s?

Both.  Every person and business in Santa Clara County must follow the local County Public Health Officer’s Order and the State Public Health Officer’s Order.  If the two are different, you must comply with the stricter of the two. You must also follow any applicable Mandatory Directives from the County, any applicable “COVID-19 Industry Guidance” from the State, and any other applicable laws or regulations.


What are the main highlights in the County Health Officer’s July 2 Risk Reduction Order?

  • The Order urges County residents to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission by staying home as much as possible and minimizing trips and activities outside the home.
  • Individuals over age 70 and those with serious underlying medical conditions should stay home other than for essential needs.
  • The Order requires all individuals to strictly follow social distancing requirements when outside their home, and generally prohibits all activities that don’t allow for social distancing – especially indoor activities.

Indoor Gatherings: The Order (through the Mandatory Directive for Gatherings) prohibits indoor gatherings of any kind in Santa Clara County.  This means that you may not gather with anyone who is not a member of your own household in any indoor setting.

Outdoor Gatherings: While the local Health Officer’s Order allows outdoor gatherings of any kind, the State prohibits all gatherings except for (1) faith-based services and cultural ceremonies, like funerals and wedding ceremonies (but not wedding receptions, parties, or celebrations, which are prohibited)(2) protests, and (3) political events.  This means that you may not gather with anyone who is not a member of your own household for any reason other than a religious or cultural ceremony, a protest, or a political gathering, and the gathering must take place outdoors.  All outdoor faith-based services, cultural ceremonies, and protests must comply with the local Health Officer’s Mandatory Directive on Gatherings, which limits gatherings to 60 people and imposes other rules and restrictions, including requirements to wear face coverings and maintain strict social distancing. 

Face coverings: Everyone must comply with the Face Covering Guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health, which requires most people to wear a face covering most of the time whenever they leave home.


Requirements Applicable to All Businesses:

The Order requires that all businesses that are open for their workers or for customers follow a set of rules to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, including:

  1. Telework: All businesses must continue to require workers to do their jobs from home whenever possible. Workers can go into work only to complete the job duties they can’t complete from home. 

  2. New Social Distancing Protocol requirements: All businesses must complete and submit an updated Social Distancing Protocol for each of their facilities or worksites on the County’s website at COVID19Prepared.org. The Social Distancing Protocol must be signed under penalty of perjury and will be posted on the County’s website. Businesses that operate facilities or worksites must post updated COVID-19 Prepared signs and Visitor Information summary sheets at their entrances. Businesses that provide services at several facilities or worksites that they do not own (like cleaning services) must distribute the Protocol to the owners or operators of each location they serve. All businesses must distribute the Protocol to their workers and train their workers on the Protocol’s requirements in a language they understand.

  3. Capacity limitations: All businesses must comply with the density limitations. There may be no more than one worker per 250 gross square feet of the facility, and no more than one customer or member of the public per 150 square feet of space open to the public. Exceptions apply for healthcare, education, and childcare facilities and in a few other limited instances specified in Health Officer Directives. Capacity limits do not apply to children under age 12 when accompanying a parent into a business facility. Note that certain businesses may be subject to more stringent capacity limitations under the State’s Order​. 

  4. Positive case reporting: All businesses (and governmental entities) are legally required to report to the Public Health Department within 4 hours if they learn that any of their workers are confirmed to be positive for COVID-19. They must also ensure workers alert them if they test positive. They must comply with all case investigation and contact tracing measures by the County.


Mandatory Directives:
 The Health Officer has issued a set of mandatory directives with rules to reduce risk in the following specific industries and activities:

All businesses, governmental entities, and people in the County must follow these directives, as well as the industry-specific guidance issued by the State.

Some business facilities remain closed: Business facilities that pose a high risk of COVID-19 transmission or large outbreaks must stay closed to the public under the local Health Officer Order. These include any indoor facility used for activities where face masks are removed (including indoor dining and bars, indoor swimming pools, saunas, heated exercise rooms, and smoking lounges), nightclubs, theaters, stadiums, arenas, music venues, indoor playgrounds and amusement centers, and non-residential adult and elder daycare facilities. The State imposes additional closures, described above.

The State’s Stay at Home Order: In addition to the County Health Officer Order, businesses and residents must comply with the State’s Stay-at-Home Order and other State Public Health Officer Orders, including the July 13 Statewide Public Health Officer Order and the State’s August 28 Blueprint for a Safer Economy​. If there is a conflict between the Orders, the more restrictive Order applies. Businesses that are allowed to open under the County Order should confirm that they are also allowed to open under the State Order. And County residents who want to participate in activities allowed under the County Order, including gatherings, should confirm that those activities are also presently allowed under the State Order.

When did the local Health Officer Order go into effect?

The local Health Officer Order went into effect on July 13, 2020. The Order also requires compliance with all applicable State Health Officer Orders.

How long will the Order be in effect?  The local Health Officer Order will remain in effect until the Health Officer amends or terminates it. The Health Officer may amend the directives from time to time, or issue new directives, while the Order is in effect.

Does the shift to the risk reduction model in the new local Health Officer Order mean that it is safe to gather, go back to work, and visit businesses?  Not necessarily. The Order urges County residents to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission by staying home as much as possible. People age 70 or older, or people with serious underlying medical conditions, should stay home except to access critical necessities like food or medicine. People aged 50 to 69 should minimize activities and interactions with people outside their household to the extent practicable.

 

GATHERINGS

At this time, the State Health Officer has generally prohibited gatherings of all kinds statewide, with additional restrictions for counties in Tier Two (including Santa Clara County).  The County Health Officer has imposed additional limitations on gatherings.  The only gatherings allowed in Santa Clara County are (1) outdoor worship services and cultural ceremonies, like funerals and wedding ceremonies (but not wedding receptions, parties, or celebrations, which are prohibited), (2) outdoor protests, and (3) outdoor political events.  You may not gather with anyone who is not a member of your own household for any other reason.  All outdoor worship services, cultural ceremonies, and protests must comply with the local Health Officer’s Mandatory Directive on Gatherings, which limits gatherings to 60 people and imposes other rules and restrictions.

Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about gatherings are listed below, but you will need to review the Health Officer’s Mandatory Directive on Gatherings to understand all the rules you must follow to safely host or attend an allowed gathering.

 

Are gatherings safe now?

Not necessarily. COVID-19 is still circulating in our community. Gathering together with people from other households, especially indoors, is still risky. Individuals over the age of 70 and individuals with medical conditions should not participate in gatherings. Indoor gatherings are particularly risky and are not allowed at this time.

What is a “gathering”?

A gathering refers to any kind of event or convening of people from separate households in a coordinated fashion. This includes events like fairs, picnics, conferences, religious worship, performances, and parties. Except for outdoor religious and cultural ceremonies, protests, and political events, all gatherings are prohibited until further notice, except as otherwise specifically permitted in State public health directives (including in applicable industry guidance). For the limited types of outdoor gatherings that are currently allowed, everyone hosting or attending the gathering must follow all the requirements in the County Health Officer’s Mandatory Directive for Gatherings.

What is NOT a “gathering” under the Order?

A gathering does not include normal operations in:

  • Classrooms
  • Areas where people are in transit
  • Areas where people are in the same space at the same time, but are doing separate activities. For example, normal activities in medical offices, hospitals, or business environments like offices, stores, and restaurants where people may be working, shopping, or eating are not gatherings.
  • Internal meetings involving only workers from a single business that take place at the business’s own facility or worksite.

Who is allowed to attend a gathering?

Anyone except people who are sick. If you feel sick with COVID-19-like symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, night sweats, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, muscle or body aches, headaches, confusion, or loss of sense of taste/smell), you are required to stay home and not go to any gatherings to avoid getting other people sick. Additionally, people at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 (due to age or medical condition) are strongly encouraged to stay home and not attend gatherings.

Does the 60-person limit on outdoor gatherings mean that more than 60 people can attend the gathering over the course of the event, so long as no more than 60 people are present at any time?

No. The entire gathering is limited to 60 people total. This means that if 60 people are at a ceremony, nobody else is allowed to join the gathering even if somebody leaves. The designated host must keep a list of all attendees at the gathering, and no more than 60 people may be on that list.

Are indoor gatherings still prohibited?

Yes. As explained in the Mandatory Directive on Gatherings, indoor gatherings (including religious services, cultural ceremonies like weddings and funerals, and protests) continue to be prohibited.

Are wedding ceremonies allowed?  What about wedding receptions?

Wedding ceremonies may occur outdoors subject to the requirements in the Mandatory Directive on Gatherings.  But the State has clarified that “wedding receptions/parties/celebrations are NOT permitted at this time” under State Public Health Officer orders.

Are funerals allowed?

Funeral services are allowed outdoors if they follow all requirements in the Mandatory Directives on Gatherings.

Can I host a dinner party or cocktail party?

No, dinner parties and cocktail parties may not be held either indoors or outdoors. All indoor gatherings are prohibited at this time. Outdoor gatherings are allowed only if they are worship services, cultural ceremonies, protests, or political events..

How is the County making sure that COVID-19 doesn’t spread during the kinds of religious/cultural/protest/political gatherings allowed by the State?

All gatherings are required to have a designated host—which can be a person or a business—to help keep everyone healthy and safe. The host is responsible for making sure everyone at a gathering follows all the requirements, including wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing. The host also has to provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitizer so everyone at the gathering can keep their hands clean—a very important way to help reduce COVID-19 transmission risk. And the host must keep a list with names and contact information for everyone who participates in a gathering.  If a participant tests positive for COVID-19, the host is legally required to assist the County Public Health Department with efforts to trace and contact other people who may have been exposed at the gathering, which allows Public Health to help stop the disease from spreading any further into the community.

Are people allowed to go to drive-in movie theaters, drive-in religious services, drive-through graduations, or other vehicle-based activities if everyone stays inside their own car or truck?  

Yes.  According to the State’s Stay Home Q&A page, “The State Public Health Officer does not consider in-car activities to be gatherings, if participants stay in their cars and otherwise remain apart from individuals who are not part of their households.”  As long as everyone occupying the same vehicle is from the same household and people do not get out of their cars, pass objects through other people’s car windows, or otherwise physically interact, these activities are allowed.  Note that drive-in movie theaters must follow all applicable rules in the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Family Entertainment Centers​

 

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TRAVEL

Is travel still limited to essential purposes, like going to work at an essential business or going to my doctor’s office?

No. The Order issued July 2 allows travel within the County, and in and out of the County, for any purpose. But it’s still safest to stay at home, so you should continue to avoid unnecessary trips. 

Are there any limits on who can use public transit?

No. Public transit (including paratransit) is open to everyone to ride for any purpose.

As more people go back to work and people start doing more activities outside the home, buses, trains, and other transit vehicles may have more riders. Therefore, the County has a Mandatory Directive for Public Transit to make sure people can ride public transportation safely. The Directive requires you to do things like wear a face coverings and maintain 6-foot social distancing from everyone outside your household whenever you are waiting at a stop or riding on public transit, and requires public transit agencies to do things like make hand sanitizer available on board and clean transit vehicles more often. Please read the Directive for additional information.

If you don’t have a car, you can also use ride-share/on-demand car services (like Uber and Lyft) or taxis. If safe to do so and weather permits, keep the windows open while using any of these services to increase airflow. Keep in mind that you should avoid as much as possible being in close quarters in a vehicle that has been used by lots of other people.

Am I allowed to rent a room or vacation house using an online platform (like Airbnb or VRBO) that facilitates short-term rentals?  What about booking a hotel room for travel?

Yes. You can rent a room or house through a short-term rental service or hotel, and you are no longer limited to staying in rented rooms while on “essential travel.”  The County’s Mandatory Directive on Lodging lists the rules short-term rental hosts and guests must follow to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 and make sure room rentals are safe for everyone.

I am traveling soon, and my destination requires an authorization that I recently tested negative for COVID-19.  Does the County provide these authorizations?

 No.  Please consult your healthcare provider or the entity that conducted your COVID-19 test for questions related to travel authorizations.

Will I be able to buy and eat food at San José Airport when I travel?

Yes, but with restrictions.  Because indoor dining and bars are not allowed to operate in the County, you will not be able to buy a sit-down meal or drink in the airport, and all restaurant, bar, and food court eating/drinking areas will be closed off.  Takeaway food and non-alcoholic beverages will be available to purchase, and you will be allowed to eat and drink at other locations in the airport.  You must maintain as much social distance as possible (at least 6 feet) from others who are not part of your household when eating or drinking.  You can remove your face covering to eat or drink, but must minimize the time you spend without it on.  Place your face covering back on immediately after eating or drinking.

 

 

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SPORTS, RECREATION, AND FITNESS

Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about sports and recreation activities are listed below, but to make sure you understand all the rules you must follow to safely play sports and games, please read the Mandatory Directive for Recreational and Athletic Activities and Facilities as well as the Mandatory Directive for Gyms and Fitness Facilities.

In addition, please note that under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the State Health Officer has ordered the closure of all indoor operations at family entertainment centers—such as bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages, and arcades—in all Tier Two counties, including Santa Clara County. These businesses may not operate indoors at this time.  Gyms and fitness centers may operate indoors in Tier Two counties, including Santa Clara County, but they must limit their capacity to 10% of normal (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter).  All operations for recreational activities and facilities are subject to the requirements of the Mandatory Directive for Recreational and Athletic Activities and Facilities as well as the Mandatory Directive for Gyms and Fitness Facilities.

 

What rules apply to sports and recreation activities?

You must follow the rules listed in the Mandatory Directive for Recreational and Athletic Activities and any rules issued by the State Health Officer. 

The following sports and recreation activities are not allowed at all: 

  • Any close contact sport played with people who are not members of your household. Close interactions with people from other households create too much risk of COVID-19 transmission.  This means you can’t play close contact sports (those that involve either physical contact or physical proximity of 6 feet or less)—like football, rugby, basketball, baseball, cricket, soccer, boxing and martial arts, partner and team dance, water polo, hockey, lacrosse, and ultimate frisbee—with people who are not from your own household. 
    • You can still do things like catch and throw a football or shoot hoops with a friend, because those versions of the game do not require close contact. 
    • You can also play any other sport or game with people from other households that doesn’t involve close contact (like tennis, bowling, running, or archery). 
  • Going to a pro sporting event as a spectator. Professional sports teams can train in their facilities, or hold games without any spectators present if the local Health Officer approves their facility-specific protocols, but you cannot attend a pro sports event as a spectator because allowing crowds at such events presents far too high a risk of COVID-19 transmission. 
  • Indoor swimming pools. The Order issued July 2 prohibits indoor activities that involve removing face coverings. This means that indoor swimming pools are closed. 

What are the rules for youth team sports?

 

Everyone participating in team sports for children/youth must follow all the rules in both the County’s Mandatory Directive for Programs Serving Children or Youth and the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Youth Sports.  If there is a conflict between these two documents, you must follow the stricter one.  Additionally, if the team practices at an outdoor gym or fitness facility, the facility must follow the Mandatory Directive for Gyms and Fitness Facilities

 

The following youth sports activities are completely prohibited:

 

  • All youth sports activities where participants come within 6 feet of one another.
    • If the sport cannot be conducted with 6 feet of distance between all participants at all times, it is not allowed, and players may only participate in conditioning/training exercises for that sport. Players must maintain 6 feet of social distance at all times during conditioning/training.

 

  • All youth sports activities that involve interaction between more than one stable group (as defined in the Mandatory Directive for Programs Serving Children or Youth).
    • If the sport cannot be conducted within a single stable group of children/youth, it is not allowed, and players may only participate in conditioning/training exercises for that sport. Players must maintain 6 feet of social distance at all times during conditioning/training.

 

  • All outdoor and indoor sporting events, assemblies, tournaments, competitions, and other activities that require close contact or promote congregating.

 

Please make sure to read both the County’s Mandatory Directive for Programs Serving Children or Youth and the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Youth Sports to make sure you understand all the rules for youth team sports.

 

 

Am I allowed to go to the gym?

Yes. The State allows gyms and fitness facilities to operate indoors in Tier Two counties, including Santa Clara County, but their capacity must be limited to 10% of normal (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter).  Note that gyms and fitness facilities may still operate outdoors and are encouraged to do so whenever possible to reduce transmission risk.

For indoor and outdoor operations, the local Health Officer’s Mandatory Directive for Gyms and Fitness Facilities lists the rules gym owners and clients must follow to make sure that working out at fitness facilities is safe. Please read the Directive to make sure you understand all the rules that you and the facility’s management must follow. Some of the rules include allowing workouts by appointment only to make sure the facility is never crowded; blocking off some equipment to ensure social distancing can be maintained while working out; and requiring clients to sanitize equipment after use and sanitize their hands before and after using each piece of equipment.

Can I do cardio at the gym?

Only outdoors.  All activities or classes that involve cardio/aerobic exercise are prohibited indoors.  Please see the Mandatory Directive for Gyms and Fitness Facilities for more details.

 

Are group fitness classes allowed?

Yes, with some restrictions.  All classes involving cardio or aerobic exercise are prohibited indoors and must be held outdoors.  Additionally, fitness classes cannot involve contact sports like kickboxing, or any touching (except for purposes of ensuring someone’s safety) between the instructor and students—any cues must be verbal only.   All group fitness classes must follow the rules in the Health Officer’s Mandatory Directives for Gyms and Fitness Facilities.  

Are adult recreational team sports allowed?

No.  At this time, the State is prohibiting all recreational team sports for adults (people age 18 and older).

I need to use a stationary bike or elliptical for rehab. Can I do that at a gym?

Yes, but because these machines are for cardio/aerobic exercise, they may only be used outdoors.

Is doubles tennis allowed? 

Generally no.  The County understands the State is restricting tennis to singles only.  Doubles tennis is allowed only if both people on the same side of the net are from the same household.  

Can I take my kids to the playground?

Yes, playgrounds are allowed so long as they are outdoors. Indoor playgrounds and indoor amusement centers (such as bounce houses and ball pits) are still required to stay closed. But outdoor playgrounds can be open, and you can take your kids to play there. Adults who can safely wear face coverings and children (other than very young children) must wear face coverings at the playground, and children should be guided in rigorous hand hygiene before and after playing on playground equipment. Adults must also maintain 6-foot social distancing from people from different households.

Under the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, indoor gyms and fitness facilities in Tier Two counties (including Santa Clara County) may only operate at 10% of normal capacity. What does that mean for children’s activities and camps that take place inside gyms or fitness facilities, like gymnastics or karate programs?

The State has confirmed that gymnastics facilities, karate studios, dance studios, and other indoor gyms and fitness facilities serving children must follow the State’s rules for gyms and fitness facilities, “regardless of the age they are servicing.”  Accordingly, these facilities may provide indoor classes and camps to children, but only if they limit their capacity to 10% of normal (or to the capacity allowed by the County’s Risk Reduction Order, whichever is stricter).

Are indoor pools allowed to operate for programs serving children or youth? 

No.  The Health Officer’s July 2 Order prohibits all indoor pool facilities from operating.  The only exception is for indoor pools that are part of a healthcare facility.  There is no exception for programs serving children or youth (such as camps, childcare programs, swimming classes, or other similar programs). As explained in its FAQs, the State also continues to close indoor swimming pools in the County (and in all other counties in Tiers One and Two).  

 

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BUSINESSES

What is still closed and why?

 

Under Section 13 of the local Health Officer Order issued July 2, the following businesses and activities must stay closed to the public because they create a particularly high risk of COVID-19 transmission:

  1. Any indoor facility that is used for an activity leading to the removal of a face covering, including but not limited to indoor dining, indoor bars, indoor swimming pools, smoking lounges, saunas, steam rooms, and heated exercise studios. This prohibition does not apply to healthcare facilities. 
  2. Professional sports stadiums and arenas, except that professional sports training is permitted and professional sporting events can occur in such facilities without spectators and in accordance with other applicable requirements, upon approval by the Health Officer of a facility-specific risk reduction protocol.
  3. Non-residential adult and elder day care facilities.
  4. Amusement and theme parks.
  5. Nightclubs, music and concert venues, and indoor theaters.
  6. Indoor playgrounds and amusement centers such as bounce centers, ball pits, and laser tag.
  7. Any additional businesses or facilities that the Health Officer specifies in a directive or order must be closed.

The State imposes separate closures and restrictions, which are explained in the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

Are tech businesses allowed to operate their offices?

Under the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, in all Tier Two counties (including Santa Clara County), offices in non-critical infrastructure sectors may not operate indoors (State’s list of critical infrastructure sectors). While the State is the best source of information about its own orders, the State’s critical infrastructure list does not contain a broad category allowing operation of all tech company offices. There are allowances under the State’s critical infrastructure categories for the Communications and IT sectors, which may encompass some or many tech companies. In addition, both the State’s Order and the County Health Officer’s Risk Reduction Order require all businesses to maximize telework, and bring workers into their offices only if remote work is not practical.

What steps does my business need to take to comply with the local Health Officer Order issued July 2?

First, if your business has a facility in the County that is used by workers or the public, you must complete and implement an updated Social Distancing Protocol using the most recent (July 2) version, which must be submitted to the County at www.COVID19Prepared.org using the County’s online form.  For more information, review the FAQs related to the Social Distancing Protocol.

Second, some businesses are subject to additional restrictions because their activities pose a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.  The Health Officer’s mandatory Directives cover the following industries and activities:

 

Businesses in these industries must comply with their industry’s Health Officer Directive in addition to the rules listed in the Social Distancing Protocol.  Please note that Directives may be released for other industries, and Directives may be frequently updated, so you should check this website regularly for updates.

Additionally, every business must comply with the State’s Stay at Home Order, including the order issued July 13, 2020, the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, and any applicable “COVID-19 Industry Guidance” issued by the State, available at covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance.  If there is a conflict between a rule in a Health Officer Directive and a rule in the corresponding State guidance, businesses must follow the stricter rule.

The local Health Officer Order requires that I limit the number of people inside my business facility.  How do I determine the maximum number of people allowed inside?

Worker Limit: All businesses must limit the number of workers inside their facility to 1 worker per 250 gross square feet of facility space (this means total space, including areas open only to staff like storage rooms).  To determine how many workers you may have inside at one time, calculate the total square footage of your facility and divide it by 250. There are some limited exceptions to the density limitations in the Order and directives.

Customer Limit: All businesses must also limit the number of customers/members of the public to 1 person per 150 square feet of total indoor space open to the public (this means the sales/retail floor, rooms where individual customer services are provided, restrooms, elevators, and other public accessible areas, but not areas open only to staff).  To determine how many customers/members of the public you may allow inside your facility at one time, calculate the total square footage of your facility that is open to the public and divide it by 150.

  • Example: If you run a retail store that is 1,900 gross square feet, with 1,600 square feet of customer-serving space, you may have no more than 7 employees and 10 customers in the store at any time.

State Restrictions: The State’s Blueprint also imposes capacity limitations on certain industries based on which tier the County is in.  Business subject to capacity restrictions under both the State and County Orders must determine their capacity limit under each order and implement the stricter of the two.

Are there any exceptions to the restrictions on capacity in business facilities?

Yes. Healthcare facilities, educational and childcare facilities, and other facilities that are specifically identified in a Health Officer Directive are exempt from the capacity limitations. But these facilities must still limit capacity to ensure that people can easily maintain at least 6-foot social distancing from one another, except as may be necessary. Also, minors under the age of 12, when accompanied by an adult, do not count toward the density limitations.

Finally, food facilities must limit the number of workers inside the facility at any time to 1 worker per 250 gross square feet, unless the facility has 1,000 gross square feet or less. If a food facility has 1,000 gross square feet or less, the facility may have up to 4 workers inside the facility at any time. For example, a 700 square foot food facility may have up to 4 workers inside at a time. If 300 square feet of space is accessible to the public, 2 customers may also be inside the facility at a time.

My business facility is less than 150 square feet – does that mean I’m not allowed to have any customers inside my facility?

No. Businesses less than 150 square feet may have one member of the public in their facility at a time.

Do I still need to limit the number of people inside my facility even if I make sure that everyone stays at least 6 feet apart from each other while inside?

Yes.  The local Health Officer Order and the Social Distancing Protocol impose social distancing requirements, which apply to all people inside your facility (and elsewhere throughout the County, whenever people are at not at home).  In addition, the Order and the Social Distancing Protocol also impose density limitations, which require you to limit the total number of people inside your facility at any time.  Both requirements are important to make sure that you avoid crowding in your facility and keep customers and workers safe.

You can think about the density requirements as how many people you may let in before another person leaves.  You can think about the social distancing requirement as the closest anyone inside the facility is allowed to get to anyone not in their household.  Businesses are responsible for calculating the maximum density and making sure it is never exceeded by controlling how many people the business lets in at a time; and businesses, their workers, and customers all have to work together to make sure social distancing is observed.

  • Example: A warehouse has 25,000 gross square feet of facility space. The warehouse must limit the workers inside the facility at any time to a maximum of 100 (1 worker per 250 gross square feet).  And, once workers are inside the facility, they must stay at least 6 feet away from everyone not in their household.

Do the density limitations apply to outdoor facilities or worksites?

No. Outdoor facilities or worksites, like agricultural fields or outdoor construction sites, do not have specific capacity limits for workers or customers. However, the business must ensure that everyone at the site can easily maintain at least six feet of social distance from everyone else at all times, which may require limiting the number of workers or members of the public who are at the site at any time.

What does it mean for a facility to be an outdoor facility?

An outdoor facility is one that allows the free flow of outdoor air through the entire space.To qualify as an outdoor facility, the facility must meet one of the following requirements:

  1. If the facility is covered (in whole or in part) by a temporary or permanent shade structure (such as an awning, canopy, or roof), at least 50% of its perimeter is open to the outdoors.For example, a square tent with a roof must have at least two of its sides completely open to qualify as an outdoor facility; or,
  1. If the facility is uncovered and open to the sky (meaning no shade structures are in use other than individual table umbrellas), at least 25% of its perimeter is open to the outdoors.For instance, an uncovered square patio must have at least one side open to qualify as an outdoor facility.

Fences and screens that do not impede airflow are not considered walls or sides for purposes of determining whether an area is outdoors.Partitions around or within the facility may be used and do not qualify as sides so long as they are no more than 4 feet in height.

Some of my employees are able to work remotely.  Are they allowed to work in the office or facility under the new Order?

No.  All businesses must continue maximizing telework.  You must require all personnel to work from home to carry out any employer-assigned work duties that they can complete from home. But these employees can come into work to carry out any employer-assigned duties that can only be completed from work.

Can I go to an outdoor restaurant with my coworkers or friends?

No. At a restaurant or other establishment that provides outdoor food service, all customers sharing a table must be from the same household. This is because removing your face covering to eat and drink creates a risk of COVID-19 transmission, so it is not safe to do while sitting close at the same table for an extended period of time with people who are not from your own household. Outdoor dining establishments are required to tell you when they take your reservation that you can share a table only with members of your own household, and you must comply with that requirement if you go. The Health Officer’s Mandatory Directive for Outdoor Dining contains the full list of requirements for outdoor dining. 

The Personal Care Services Directive requires physical barriers between workers and customers wherever feasible. Do plastic shower curtains satisfy this requirement?

Yes. The Directive requires businesses to install physical barriers wherever feasible both between customers and the workers performing the personal care service (for example, a manicurist), and also between customers and workers at reception areas. The barrier must be big enough, installed in the right place, and made of a material that blocks airflow between workers and customers. Most clear plastic shower curtains will suffice. So will hard plastics or Plexiglass. The physical barrier should be regularly disinfected.

 

The Personal Care Services Directive requires businesses to dispose of or “launder” smocks or capes after they are used for a client. Can businesses use smocks or capes that can be cleaned but not “laundered”?

Yes. If a reusable smock or cape can be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each client, it can be used instead of a fabric smock or cape that is laundered after each client. But businesses cannot reuse smocks or capes that are simply spot-cleaned or wiped down after each client.

 

The Personal Care Services Directive requires lessees to sign an agreement when they lease or rent space from a personal service business. Who counts as a “lessee”?  Do lessees still need to complete their own Social Distancing Protocol?

A lessee is anyone who rents space from a personal service business. A common example would be an independent hair stylist who rents a chair or workstation from a hair salon. (A personal service business does not need to sign this agreement just because they rent their facility space from a landlord; instead, the agreement must be signed when the personal service business is the one renting out space.)

Lessees need to sign the agreement in the Personal Care Services Directive. Because they are running their own business independent from the salon, they also need to complete, submit, and implement their own Social Distancing Protocol. They also need to provide a copy of their Social Distancing Protocol to the salon. But they do not need to post their completed Protocol or any signage at their rented station or area (because the salon will have already posted the required signage at the facility).


Are candidates, campaigns, interest groups, advocates, and other people permitted to engage in face-to-face election and campaign activities such as signature-gathering, voter registration drives, canvassing, and other activities?

Yes, under the County’s local Order. However, organizations, campaigns, businesses, and individuals engaged in these types of activities in-person must complete and submit a Social Distancing Protocol to the County at www.covid19prepared.org, and ensure that all staff and volunteers comply with the Protocol. Further, anyone intending to engage in such activities should confirm that they are currently allowed under the State’s Order.

To the extent that these activities involve personal interaction, it is particularly important that candidates, staff, and volunteers maintain adequate social distancing, wear face coverings, provide hand sanitizer or handwashing facilities, and avoid person-to-person contact. Any organization, campaign, business, or individual engaged in these activities should use remote alternatives to the maximum extent possible. Please note that the State’s order currently prohibits all gatherings except for outdoor protests and outdoor religious services or cultural ceremonies.

Will vote centers be open to the public? 

Yes.  All voting/polling centers and other elections facilities may operate.  All personnel can work in these facilities, and the public can access them to register to vote, to file papers to run for office or related to ballot measures, and to vote.  Everyone at the vote center or election facility—workers, volunteers, and visitors—must strictly maintain 6-foot social distancing from members of other households and wear face coverings at all times (except for very young children, people for whom face coverings are medically inadvisable, and for communication by or with people who are hearing impaired).  Facilities that are required to close pursuant to the State or County Orders may, and are encouraged to, open as vote centers. Please check with the Registrar of Voters for hours of operation and locations. ​

I’m a real estate agent. Am I allowed to show homes?  What rules do I have to follow?

Real estate agents are allowed to show homes, but all showings must follow the requirements of both the July 2 Health Officer Order and the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Real Estate Transactions, which require virtual tours whenever possible.  When in-person showings are necessary, people participating in those showings must maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from everyone outside their own household, and everyone participating in the showing must wear a face covering at all times.

Are real estate agents required to submit Social Distancing Protocols?

Yes.  Real estate agents are required to complete, submit, and implement a Social Distancing Protocol.  If a real estate agent has their own facility that is visited by personnel or the public, the Protocol must account for both the facility itself and the work the real estate agent performs at any off-site locations (like home viewings).  If the real estate agent does not have their own facility, a Protocol is still required, and the real estate agent should select the “No Business Facility” box at the top of the webform.

Are cafeterias inside hospitals allowed to be open for indoor dining?

Yes. As healthcare facilities, hospitals are exempt from the general prohibition on indoor dining, and hospital cafeterias may provide indoor dining services. The cafeterias must follow applicable health and safety measures in the Mandatory Directive for Food Facilities and implement additional measures to mitigate risks associated with indoor dining—such as closing off seating to ensure adequate social distance between non-household members dining in the cafeteria and cleaning tables between each customer group. Staff and visitors are encouraged to eat their meals outside whenever feasible and to minimize the removal of face coverings if eating inside the cafeteria.

Are cafeterias at private business facilities allowed to be open for indoor dining?

No. If your business facility has an onsite cafeteria, the cafeteria may not provide indoor dining services. The cafeteria may provide outdoor dining services (following all the rules in the Mandatory Directive for Outdoor Dining), and it may also provide food for workers to take out of the cafeteria and eat elsewhere in or around the facility. Workers are encouraged to eat their meals outside whenever feasible. The cafeteria must also follow all applicable rules in the Mandatory Directive for Food Facilities.

Are cafeterias at government facilities allowed to be open for indoor dining?

If a government facility has an onsite cafeteria, that cafeteria may provide outdoor dining services (following all the rules in the Mandatory Directive for Outdoor Dining), and it may provide food for workers to take out of the cafeteria and eat elsewhere in or around the facility. Workers are encouraged to eat their meals outside whenever feasible. The cafeteria may provide indoor dining services only if the government agency determines that closing the cafeteria for indoor dining would impede or interfere with an essential government function. The cafeteria must also follow all applicable rules in the Mandatory Directive for Food Facilities.

Are driving schools allowed to provide in-person driving or motorcycle lessons?

The County Order allows driving schools to operate, and the State has confirmed that driving schools are essential as components of “vehicle and driver licensing systems.”  This means that they are allowed to provide in-person driving and motorcycle lessons.  Before operating, all driving schools must complete, submit, and implement a Social Distancing Protocol, and any driving instruction for students under age 18 must follow the rules in the Mandatory Directive for Programs Serving Children or Youth.  Everyone inside the vehicle must wear a face covering at all times (unless medically exempt).  Driving schools must maximize their remote offerings, including holding all classroom instruction remotely.  Only hands-on driving instruction should be conducted in person.

Additionally, all driving schools should take the following steps to keep instructors and students safe:

  • Only one student and one instructor should occupy the instructional vehicle at any one time.
  • The vehicle should be sanitized thoroughly between each student’s use.
  • Windows should be left open inside the instructional vehicle to maximize airflow, unless weather conditions would make doing so impractical.​

I run an indoor theater, place of worship, or other facility that must remain closed or may not open for indoor gatherings.  Can I livestream or record performances/services/classes for remote viewers?

Yes.  Some facilities must remain closed to the public or to indoor gatherings, but they may host performances/services/classes without live audiences, and these events may be livestreamed, broadcast, or otherwise recorded.  All indoor recorded or streamed events must comply with the following rules:

  • The business hosting the event must have completed, submitted, and implemented a Social Distancing Protocol.
  • Only personnel (performers/presenters and crew members) may be inside the facility. Audiences or other members of the public are strictly prohibited.
  • The number of personnel inside the facility must be limited to the minimum necessary to conduct the event (and may never exceed 12 people or the maximum number of personnel allowed inside the facility under the Risk Reduction Order’s density limitations, whichever is fewer).
  • All personnel, including performers/presenters in the performance area, must maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from everyone outside their household at all times.
  • All personnel must wear face coverings or face shields with drapes at all times (face coverings are strongly preferred), including while performing (except for people for whom face coverings are medically inadvisable, or for communication by or with people who are hearing impaired), unless they are alone in a room or only with members of their household. For clarity, a performer/presenter may remove their face covering if they are alone in the performance area and all crew members are in separate rooms, in enclosed booths, or otherwise fully shielded from the performer/presenter (for example, if the crew member is stationed in an area that is enclosed in plexiglass).
  • Singing and use of wind instruments are strictly prohibited unless the performer/presenter is alone in a room or only with members of their household.

In addition to the above requirements, the Health Officer strongly urges businesses hosting these events to comply with the following recommendations:

  • For theater companies, choosing performances with very small casts, such as one-person shows.
  • For other entities, limiting the number of people performing or presenting to the minimum number necessary.
  • Having performers/presenters speak at low volumes (i.e., normal speaking voice) rather than shouting or projecting.
  • To increase ventilation, leaving doors and windows open to the extent possible, or running mechanical ventilation systems.


Can theaters, religious institutions, and other groups livestream or record outdoor performances/services/classes for remote viewers?
 

Yes.  Outdoor performances/services/classes without audiences are allowed, and they may be livestreamed, broadcast, or otherwise recorded.  All such outdoor events must comply with the following rules: 

  • The business hosting or putting on the event must have completed, submitted, and implemented a Social Distancing Protocol. 
  • Only personnel (performers/presenters and crew members) may be present.  Audiences or other members of the public are strictly prohibited. 
  • All personnel, including performers/presenters in the performance area, must maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from everyone outside their household at all times. 
  • When not performing/presenting, all personnel must wear face coverings or face shields with drapes at all times (except for people for whom face coverings are medically inadvisable, or for communication by or with people who are hearing impaired).  Face coverings are strongly preferred over face shields with drapes. 
  • When performing/presenting, personnel may remove their face covering while they are actively speaking but must replace their face covering immediately after they finish.  Anyone who removes their face covering to speak is strongly urged to maintain at least 10 feet of social distance from everyone not in their household.  
  • Any singing or use of wind instruments must comply with the rules for singing and wind instruments in the Mandatory Directive on Gatherings. 
  • If the performance occurs at a location that is not operated by the business hosting the event, the performance must comply with the County’s Mandatory Directive for Gatherings. 


 

I submitted a Social Distancing Protocol on the County’s website and received my “COVID-19 Prepared” checkmark sign—does that mean that the County has approved my facility to open?

Not necessarily.  The COVID-19 Prepared checkmark sign only authenticates that you have completed and submitted your Social Distancing Protocol to the County.  It does not mean that the County has provided authorization to your business to operate.  Regardless of whether you have submitted a Social Distancing Protocol, you must comply with the County and State Health Officer Orders, including any prohibitions on operation for certain types of businesses. 


 

The Social Distancing Protocol requires employers to identify and exclude “close contacts” of positive cases from the worksite for 14 days. What does it mean for someone to be a “close contact” of a positive case?

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of the infected person for at least 15 minutes at any time beginning 2 days before the infected person had symptoms or tested positive.  Close contacts include people who had 15 minutes of continuous contact with the infected person, as well as people who had repeated short-duration interactions with the infected person.  Close contacts must be excluded from the jobsite for 14 days from the date of their last contact with the infected person.


 

When determining whether someone is a “close contact,” does it matter whether the positive case or the person who came into contact with the positive case was wearing a face covering? 

No.  While face coverings do reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission, they have no impact on the determination of whether someone is a close contact and should quarantine.

 

The July 2 Risk Reduction Order and some of the Mandatory Directives say that certain requirements do not apply to “healthcare facilities.” What is the definition of a “healthcare facility”?

As used in the July 2 Risk Reduction Order and the Health Officer’s Mandatory Directives, “healthcare facility” means a facility or worksite operated by a business which employs at least one licensed healthcare professional to perform services at the facility or worksite which are within the scope of that person’s healthcare license. “Licensed healthcare professionals” are those providers who are considered Licensed Health Professionals by the California Department of Consumer Affairs. If the facility is used for other functions in addition to healthcare, the “healthcare facility” is limited to that portion of the overall facility in which licensed healthcare professionals and their support staff are operating. For example, if an elementary school employs a registered nurse, the nurse’s office is considered a healthcare facility, but the entire school campus is not.

Note: This definition does not apply to the Health Officer’s Order issued September 16, 2020 relating to COVID-19 testing. See section 11(c) of the September 16 Order for the definition of “healthcare facility” as the term is used in that Order.

 

Who counts as “support staff” in the County’s definition of “healthcare facility” as used in the Risk Reduction Order and Mandatory Directives?

The County’s definition of “healthcare facility” (as used in the Risk Reduction Order and the Mandatory Directives) references licensed healthcare professionals and their support staff. For purposes of this definition, “support staff” means any personnel who support a licensed healthcare professional in providing a service that is within the scope of the licensed healthcare professional’s healthcare license. This includes both functional/operational support and administrative support.

  • Example 1: A doctor’s office employs an unlicensed assistant to measure patients’ heights and weights before the patients meet with the doctor. Because the assistant is supporting the doctor’s healthcare services, the assistant is support staff.
  • Example 2: A dentist’s office employs a receptionist to provide administrative support for the dentist’s operations. Because the receptionist is supporting the dentist’s healthcare services, the receptionist is support staff.
  • Example 3: A chiropractic center employs a massage therapist to provide massages. The massage therapist works separately from the chiropractors and does not work with the chiropractors in providing chiropractic adjustments. The massage therapist is not support staff.

 

Are med spas considered “healthcare facilities”?

Sometimes. Med spas are only considered “healthcare facilities” if they meet—and to the extent they meet—the definition listed above. In some cases, a portion of a med spa would be considered a healthcare facility and a portion would be considered a non-healthcare facility, depending on which services are performed in which parts of the overall facility. Med spa services that are not performed by a licensed healthcare professional or their support staff (as defined in the previous FAQ) are not considered to take place in a healthcare facility, which means that face coverings may not be removed during those services. For example, if a med spa employs an esthetician to perform facials, and the esthetician is not directly supporting a licensed healthcare professional in performing a healthcare service, then the esthetician’s work area is not considered a healthcare facility, and the customer may not remove their face covering to receive the facial. By contrast, if a med spa employs an esthetician who works alongside a physician who performs laser therapies to remove pre-cancerous cells, then the esthetician’s work area is considered a health facility, and the customer may remove their face covering to receive the laser therapy.

 

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COVID-19 CASE REPORTING

What should businesses do when they discover that someone tested positive for COVID-19 case at their worksite?

Follow the instructions at www.sccsafeworkplace.org. This step-by-step protocol provides guidance to employers on what to do when someone at their worksite tests positive for COVID-19, including: (1) providing instructions to the COVID-19-positive worker, (2) identifying close contacts, (3) communicating with all employees, (4) reporting the case to Public Health, (5) reporting any hospitalizations and deaths, (6) cleaning and disinfection, and (7) preventing COIVD-19 transmission at the workplace.

Why is the County requiring employers to report to Public Health when one of their employees tests positive for COVID-19?

To help keep COVID-19 from spreading in the community. Employers must require that employees tell their employer if they test positive and they were at work within 48 hours of becoming symptomatic or within 48 hours of taking their test. Employers (including government agencies) are required to tell Public Health within 4 hours when one of their employees tests positive for COVID-19 if they were at work during that timeframe (whether the employer learned from their employee or some other source). Follow the instructions at www.sccsafeworkplace.org to report the case using the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Portal

I’m an employer.  If one of my workers tests positive for COVID-19, but that person has not been to the facility recently, do I have to report the case to the County? 

If someone tests positive for COVID-19 who has been working at your facility or worksite within 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms or within 48 hours of the date they were tested, you must submit the requested case and contact data through the Close Contact Data Collection Portal, as instructed at www.sccsafeworkplace.org.  If the person was NOT at the facility or worksite within this time period (for example, an employee who has been working remotely from home), you do not need to report the case to the County.

 What is “case investigation and contact tracing?” 

It is one of the most important tools available to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing interrupts chains of COVID-19 transmission by helping to ensure Public Health can identify potential contacts of any person who tests positive for COVID-19 and support them in safely quarantining. It helps to slow the spread of the virus throughout our County. Contact tracing allows for far fewer restrictions to be put on the activities of the community because COVID-19 transmission chains can be traced and contained before they spread uncontrollably. More information about the County’s case investigation and contact tracing operations is available here.

How do employers report that they have had an employee test positive for COVID-19 to the Public Health Department?

If a positive case is identified at your worksite, submit the requested case and contact data through the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Portal. Under the Health Officer Order, employers are legally required to submit this report within four hours after the employer learns of the positive case(s). If you do not have complete information within four hours, you must report the information that you have obtained. Later, if you discover additional information after your initial report, you may update the information by submitting a new form with “[Employer Name] – CORRECTION” in the field for “Employer Name.” The information provided will remain confidential and will not be turned over to immigration authorities. ​

What information do employees need to give to their employer if they discover that they tested positive for COVID-19?

Businesses and governmental entities must require that all personnel (employees, contractors, and volunteers) immediately alert the business or government entity if they test positive for COVID-19 and were at the workplace within 48 hours before symptoms began or within 48 hours of the date they were tested.  This means that workers must immediately tell their employer as soon as they learn that they tested positive for COVID-19 if they were at the worksite during this period.  Workers must also assist their employers in identifying their close contacts in the workplace.

The County will use this information to stop the disease from spreading within the workplace and among other potential contacts of the person who tested positive. All information reported to the County will remain confidential and will not be turned over to immigration authorities.

When an employee gets tested for COVID-19, who should be listed as the recipient of the test results?  Should the results go to the employee (who will then alert the employer if the result is positive), or should the results go directly to the employer?

Employers may (and are encouraged to) offer free testing to their workers, in which case the test results may be reported directly to the employer.  But workers who seek out testing on their own do not need to ask their healthcare provider or the testing laboratory to report their test results directly to the employer, and employers should not require this.

What is Public Health doing about COVID-19 cases at events and gatherings?

Another setting that presents a risk for COVID-19 spreading is events and gatherings. That’s why every gathering allowed under the Order needs to have a designated host who is responsible for keeping contact information for all the attendees. If someone who attended the gathering ends up testing positive for COVID-19, the host is legally required to assist Public Health with efforts to trace and contact other people who may have been exposed at the gathering by providing their contact information. Because indoor gatherings are particularly risky, the Health Officer has prohibited them from occurring at this time. 

What does Public Health do with my information?

All information gathered for case and contact tracing purposes will be used only for the purpose of tracing and containing COVID-19. Personal information will be kept confidential from anyone not working on contact tracing efforts. The County never shares personal information about community members with immigration authorities.

 

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FACE COVERINGS

What are the face covering requirements in the Order issued July 2?

 

The local Health Officer’s Order requires you to wear a face covering:

  • Whenever you are at, or in line to enter, any public indoor space, including a business.
  • Whenever you are waiting for or riding on public transit.
  • Most times when you are engaged in work, including:
    • When inside a room or enclosed area where others are present who are not members of your household;
    • Interacting with any member of the public;
    • Working in a space visited by the public, even when a member of the public is not present;
    • Working in a space where food is packaged or prepared for sale;
    • When inside or passing through common areas like hallways, stairways, and elevators.
  • Whenever driving a taxi, carshare, rideshare, or paratransit vehicle when someone outside your household is present.
  • Whenever you are outdoors in public spaces and cannot maintain a 6-foot social distance from people outside your household.

Generally, you should be prepared to wear a face covering any time you are outside your own home.

Businesses must post signs stating that a face covering is required when you are at their facilities. They must also require their employees to wear face coverings while working.

Because consistent use of face coverings is such an important way to stop the spread of COVID-19, the local Health Officer’s Risk Reduction Order prohibits indoor activities (other than healthcare services) that necessarily involve removing a face covering, such as eating or drinking indoors at a restaurant or bar, swimming at an indoor pool, smoking at a cigar lounge, or visiting a sauna, steam room, or heated exercise studio.

Please see the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings for more information.

 

If I’m alone in my cubicle or sitting far apart from other people in an open workspace, do I have to wear a face covering?  What about when I’m using a conference room?

As a general rule, everyone must wear a face covering at all times when at a business facility unless they are alone in a fully enclosed room with a door that is not visited by people outside their household, such as a private office.  Because cubicles and other open workspaces are not fully enclosed, you must wear a face covering while working in these spaces.  You must also wear a face covering when using a conference room, even if you are alone in the room while you use it, if it is also used by anyone who is not a member of your household.  This will help protect anyone who uses the conference room after you’re finished.  Face coverings are also required when in or passing through common spaces, like restrooms, hallways, and stairwells. 

You may remove your face covering to eat and drink at work, but you must put it back on as soon as you are finished eating or drinking.  Congregating with coworkers to eat indoors is unsafe and strongly discouraged.  When possible, workers are strongly encouraged to take their meals during the workday outdoors, or if not, to eat privately at their own workspace.   

If I’m alone in my private office, do I have to wear a face covering?

No, but you are strongly encouraged to do so.  If you are alone in a fully enclosed room (meaning that the walls go all the way up to the ceiling and your door is closed), and the room is not visited by people outside your household, you do not have to wear a face covering.  Even so, it is safest to always wear a face covering at work, even in private offices, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission from respiratory droplets and aerosols that may linger and spread to other people who enter the room or work nearby.


Who does not have to wear a face covering?

The following people do not have to wear face coverings:

  • Children under age two.
  • People who a healthcare professional has advised should not wear a face covering because they have a medical condition that would make wearing a face covering dangerous.
  • People who cannot put on or take off a face covering without assistance.
  • People who are hearing impaired who need to remove their face covering to effectively communicate (or people who are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired).
  • Workers who must remove their face covering to comply with local, state, or federal rules.
  • People who must take off their face covering to address a basic biological need, like eating or drinking. Indoor dining, however, is prohibited precisely because it inherently requires removal of face coverings.
  • People who are actively engaged in outdoor exercise and maintaining at least 6 feet social distancing from others not in their household.

Do I need a doctor’s note to enter a business without a face covering if I have a medical condition that prevents me from wearing a face covering?

No. Businesses should not require you to present a doctor’s note once you explain that you cannot wear a face covering for medical reasons. Please see the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings for more information.

 

I’m a business owner, and my facility is visited by customers.  The Social Distancing Protocol says I must require all customers to wear face coverings at my facility (except for customers who are exempt).  What are my obligations under this requirement?

If a customer tries to enter your facility without a face covering, you should ask that person, “Is there a medical or disability-related reason why you cannot wear a face covering?”  You should not ask the person to tell you their specific medical condition or disability.  If the person says they cannot wear a face covering for medical or disability-related reasons, you should allow the person to enter your facility and should not require them to produce a doctor’s note.

If a customer does not have a medical or disability-related reason why they cannot wear a face covering but refuses to wear a face covering regardless, you must deny that customer entry to your facility.  If a customer becomes belligerent after you deny entry, you may call the police and request help in enforcing the face covering requirement at your facility.

 

 

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SOCIAL DISTANCING PROTOCOL

Does the Order issued July 2 make any changes to the Social Distancing Protocol requirement for businesses?

Yes. The Social Distancing Protocol template has been updated, and the Order issued July 2 requires all businesses with a facility in the County used by workers or the public to complete and implement an updated Protocol for each facility they operate. Business must also now submit their updated Protocols to the County at www.COVID19prepared.org using the County’s online form. The new Social Distancing Protocol must be completed and submitted before the new Order goes into effect.

What entities have to complete a Social Distancing Protocol?

All businesses, including non-profits, educational entities, and non-governmental organizations must complete and submit a Social Distancing Protocol. Businesses that have multiple facilities in the County must submit a separate Protocol for each facility. Governmental entities must complete and submit a Social Distancing Protocol unless it would interfere with completing an essential governmental function.

I already completed a Social Distancing Protocol under a prior Health Officer Order. Do I need to complete a new one?

Yes. All businesses operating in any way in the County, including businesses that completed a Social Distancing Protocol under a prior Order, must complete and implement a new one using the most recent (July 2) version and submit it at www.COVID19prepared.org using the County’s online form. The new Social Distancing Protocol must be completed and submitted before the new Order goes into effect.

Is the Social Distancing Protocol a requirement, or just guidance?

Social Distancing Protocols are mandatory for all businesses in the County that are operating. Failure to comply with the Social Distancing Protocol requirements is a violation of the Order, and may result in fines and other penalties. Businesses must implement all applicable measures identified in the Social Distancing Protocol.

Why are Social Distancing Protocols required?

The current Social Distancing Protocol contains up-to-date public health measures designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at business facilities in the County. If your business is allowed to operate, strictly implementing these health and safety protocols is the best way to protect yourself, your workers, and your customers from COVID-19 when they are at your business facility. The updated COVID-19 PREPARED Sign and Social Distancing Protocol Visitor Information Sheet that must be posted are also designed to show workers and the public that your business is both complying with these requirements and doing its part to keep the community safe.

What does my business need to do to comply with the updated Social Distancing Protocol requirements?

To comply with the updated Social Distancing Protocol requirements, your business must do the following before reopening (or, if you are already allowed to be open, before the new Order goes into effect):

  1. Complete a Social Distancing Protocol for each facility or worksite in the County used by workers or the public, using the updated (July 2) version of the template found in the online form. If your business does not operate a facility or worksite, but provides services to multiple facilities or worksites that your business does not own or operate, then you must fill out one Social Distancing Protocol covering your operations.
  2. Sign and submit the completed Protocol to the County using the online form.
  3. Distribute a copy of the Protocol to all workers (employees, volunteers, contractors, etc.) that work at the facility or worksite. If your business provides services to multiple facilities or worksites that your business does not own or operate, you must distribute the Protocol both to your workers and to the owner or operator of each facility or worksite where you provide services. Train your workers on the Protocol measures in a language they understand.
  4. Post an updated COVID-19 PREPARED Sign and a Social Distancing Protocol Visitor Information Sheet at all entrances to your facility or worksite, where they can be easily viewed by the public and workers. (These documents can only be downloaded and printed after you complete your Protocol using the online form.)
  5. Post the signage required in the Protocol at each entrance of the facility or worksite to inform visitors and workers of social distancing, face covering, and health and hygiene requirements.
  6. Implement the measures in your Social Distancing Protocol.

Who can complete the Social Distancing Protocol for my business?

The Protocol must be completed by someone authorized to complete and sign it on behalf of the business.

The Order requires that an authorized representative sign and submit the Social Distancing Protocol under penalty of perjury—what does that mean?

“Signed and submitted under penalty of perjury” means that everything written on the online form must be truthful and accurate to the best of the signer’s knowledge. Knowingly submitting false information is a crime. 

Will the Social Distancing Protocols be available to the public after they’re submitted to the County?

Yes. All Social Distancing Protocols submitted to the County will be viewable by the public in an online database. Members of the public will be able to use the database to see whether a particular business has submitted a Protocol and what safety measures the business has put in place. This will help everyone in the community feel confident about visiting your business because they will know you are taking the steps required to keep them safe. The database will be posted to the Public Health Department’s website later this month.

Does the County review and approve each Social Distancing Protocol?

No. Although the Social Distancing Protocols are to be submitted online and made viewable by the public, they are not reviewed and approved by the County or Public Health Department. Given the volume, it would not be feasible for the County to review and approve them. The Social Distancing Protocols are posted as submitted, and the County is not responsible for their content.

What is the difference between the “Required” and “Optional: Check if Applicable” boxes in the Social Distancing Protocol online form?

“Required” boxes must be checked or filled out by every single business submitting a Social Distancing Protocol. You will not be able to complete the form if you do not check all the required boxes. “Optional: Check if Applicable” boxes only need to be checked if they apply to your business, but you must check every optional box that does apply. For instance, if you operate a grocery store with shopping carts, you must check the boxes regarding cleaning shopping carts, even though they are listed as “Optional: Check if Applicable.”  If you do not check a box that applies to your business, your Protocol does not comply with the Order.

What is a “fictitious business name”?

The second box in the Social Distancing Protocol asks for your fictitious business name. This box should be filled out if your legal business name is different from the name your customers recognize or the name you use in day-to-day operations. This box is optional, so if your business is already commonly known by its legal name, you do not need to fill in a fictitious name.

What counts as a “facility/worksite” for the Social Distancing Protocol?

A facility/worksite is a location at which your business operates. For many businesses, facilities/worksites will be buildings. For others, facilities/worksites may be outdoor spaces. A facility/worksite may also be a combination of a building and an outdoor area (such as an agricultural operation that harvests crop in a field and processes the crop in an onsite barn or warehouse).

What if my business performs services at many different sites?

Businesses that perform services at scattered sites (such as landscapers, dog walkers, or in-home cleaning companies) may submit one Social Distancing Protocol for their whole operation and do not need to complete a new Protocol for every place they provide services (for example, every home where a landscaper works). All scattered-site businesses must provide a copy of their Protocol to the owner or operator of each place they perform services (in addition to providing the Protocol to all workers).

If a scattered-site business has a facility (like a headquarters office or a maintenance yard), the Social Distancing Protocol must list that facility address in the “Street Address” field at the top of the Protocol form, and the signage required by the Social Distancing Protocol must be posted at the facility. These businesses should not check the “No Business Facility” box at the top of the form (because they have a facility, even if some or most of their services take place elsewhere).

However, if a scattered-site business does not have a facility of any kind and workers work only from scattered sites, these businesses should not fill in the “Street Address” field at the top of the Social Distancing Protocol form. Instead, they should click the “No Business Facility” box. These businesses will not need to post any signage (because they do not have a facility in which to post it). They should still go through the form carefully and check any boxes that apply to their business.

If a business has multiple facilities, however, it must fill out a Social Distancing Protocol form for each location.

Does the Order issued July 2 require construction-related businesses to complete and submit a Social Distancing Protocol?

Yes. Construction-related businesses must submit a Social Distancing Protocol under the Order issued July 2. Construction activities must also comply with the requirements in the Mandatory Directive for Construction Projects.

I run a business out of my home. Do I need to submit a Social Distancing Protocol?

It depends. All businesses must complete, submit, and implement a Social Distancing Protocol for every facility/worksite that is visited by personnel or members of the public. If you run a business out of your home, you must submit a Social Distancing Protocol if: (1) anyone outside your household comes to your home to work as a staff member or to visit as a client or customer; (2) you provide services at sites that you do not own or operate; or (3) you personally deliver products to homes or places of business.

Example 1: You run an electronics repair business out of your home. You are the only employee, but customers come to your home to drop off and pick up their items for repair. You must complete a Social Distancing Protocol because your business facility is visited by customers.

Example 2: You run an accounting business out of your home. You have an employee who comes to your home twice a week to help with paperwork. The employee does not live with you. You must complete a Social Distancing Protocol because your business facility is visited by your employee.

Example 3: You run a landscaping business out of your home. You store your equipment at your home and each day drive to various homes and businesses where you provide your services. You must complete a Social Distancing Protocol and provide a copy to the owner or operator of each home or business where you provide your services.

Example 4: You make furniture in your garage, and deliver it to people’s homes. You must complete a Social Distancing Protocol.

Example 5: You run a graphic design business out of your home. You and your spouse, who lives with you, are the only two employees. All your client meetings are virtual, so no one visits your home for business purposes. You do not need to complete a Social Distancing Protocol.

Are government agencies required to complete Social Distancing Protocols for facilities where essential governmental functions are being performed?

Social Distancing Protocols are strictly required for all business facilities. They are not required for governmental entities if they would interfere with the governmental entity’s ability to carry out an essential governmental function. 

My business is closed to the public, and workers are onsite only to perform minimum basic operations. Does it need a Social Distancing Protocol?

Yes. All business facilities and worksites used in any way by workers or the public must have a Social Distancing Protocol, including those that are only visited by workers performing minimum basic operations.

The Social Distancing Protocol states that my business must designate a person to monitor the facility/worksite entrance to ensure that people comply with the Social Distancing Protocol—does that mean I need to station someone at the door?

No. This provision only requires that you designate someone at the facility who is responsible for monitoring compliance with the Protocol at the facility; it does not require that someone must be physically located at the entrance. However, stores with a large number of customers—like grocery stores—should physically post a staff person at the entrance to control the number of customers entering the store.

I filled out my Social Distancing Protocol and pressed “Finish.” What happens now? How do I access and print the completed documents?

If you filled out every required box, after you press “Finish,” an email will be sent to the email address you entered at the beginning of the submission process before you began to fill out the form (the email for the “Submitter”). This email will contain a link that says “View Completed Documents.” Click this link to view and print your completed Social Distancing Protocol and signage.

Should I post instructions for customers beyond the signage required by the Social Distancing Protocol?

Some businesses (such as gyms and fitness facilities) are required by their industry-specific Directives to post additional signage. Additionally, depending on the type of facility, the Social Distancing Protocol may contain measures that customers and other visitors to your facility should know about beyond those included in the required signage. For instance, food facilities must implement measures to prevent contact with customers’ reusable bags (like requiring customers using reusable bags to bag their own groceries) and prevent customers from using reusable cups and food containers from home for takeaway. It is recommended that you include these and other directions for customers applicable to your facility on signage at public entrances so customers know what they need to do to keep themselves and others safe when visiting.

The Social Distancing Protocol requires employers to conduct temperature and symptom screenings for employees at the beginning of their shifts. Do the temperature screenings require a temperature check with a thermometer or thermal scanner?

No, measuring employees’ temperatures using a thermometer or thermal scanner is not required. Screening employees for temperature and symptoms means that employees should be asked before starting work if they feel or recently felt feverish, and have or recently had other symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills, and muscle/body aches. This screening process is required. (Note: Temperature screenings with a thermometer or thermal scanner can increase COVID-19 risk if many employees convene in the same place for screening. If an employer chooses to use a thermometer or thermal scanner to measure employees’ temperatures, they should send home any employees whose temperatures measure 99 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.)

Does the temperature and symptom screening need to be done in-person by a designated screener?

No. Employers may choose to designate screeners to conduct in-person screenings, but they may also choose to have employees self-certify in writing that they have no symptoms. This may be done through a paper form, an online survey, or any other written means.

I saw that the County changed the rule for how long someone has to isolate after they test positive for COVID-19. The old rule was listed in the Social Distancing Protocol form that I filled out for my business and submitted to the County. Do I need to submit a new Protocol now that the rule has changed?

No. The Social Distancing Protocol form was updated on September 23, 2020 to align with the County’s new isolation and quarantine requirements. Employers are now required to instruct employees who test positive for COVID-19 to stay home and isolate for at least 10 days from the date their symptoms began AND for at least 24 hours after resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; AND improvement of any other symptoms. Employees may return to the worksite only after all of these criteria are met. If the employee never had any COVID-19 symptoms, they should isolate for 10 days from the date their positive test was done. This is known as the “10/1 rule” and is a change from the earlier “10/3 rule,” which was referenced on page 6 of the original version of the Social Distancing Protocol. Employers are required to follow the 10/1 rule starting on September 22, 2020, but they do not need to re-submit a new Social Distancing Protocol if they already submitted one using the online webform on or after July 2, 2020.

Note that anyone who had close contact with the person diagnosed with COVID-19 should stay at home and not enter the workplace for 14 days, starting the last day that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was at work. The definition of a close contact may be found here.

 

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ORDER ENFORCEMENT

 

I can’t wear a face covering for medical or disability-related reasons.  Will I be fined for not wearing a face covering in public?

No.  People who are exempt from the face covering requirement do not violate the State or County Health Officers’ Orders by not wearing a face covering, and the County will not take action to impose fines or other penalties against those people for not wearing a face covering.

 

I was contacted by someone who said they were enforcing the local Health Officer’s Order.  How can I be sure that this person is authorized to conduct enforcement?

If you have questions about whether someone is authorized by the Health Officer to enforce the local and State Health Officers’ Orders, you can contact the Business Call Center at (408) 961-5500 and ask for confirmation.  Note: County Enforcement Officers will never ask for your credit card information or ask you to pay a fine or fee over the phone.

 

 

Access and Functional Needs

While the Health Officer’s Order is in effect, do businesses and public entities still need to comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Yes. The Health Officer’s Order makes no changes to ADA requirements, and the ADA remains in full force countywide. Businesses and public entities must comply with their usual ADA obligations, even if they are making changes to their facilities to implement their Social Distancing Protocols. For example, if a business chooses to rearrange furniture in its facility to make it easier for customers to practice social distancing, the new furniture arrangement must follow ADA requirements for ingress and egress. Similarly, if a restaurant decides to open outdoor dining, it may not position its outdoor tables and chairs so that they block or intrude on the public right of way. Visit www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm for further information on ADA requirements for businesses.

I use a wheelchair van or other adapted vehicle. Will I be able to use the County’s drive-up COVID-19 testing sites?

Yes. Drive-up testing sites can accommodate wheelchair vans and other adapted vehicles. Note that drive-up testing sites will generally ask you to remain inside your vehicle while you self-administer your test.

I use a wheelchair/powerchair or have another physical disability. Will I be able to use the County’s walk-up/roll-up COVID-19 testing sites?

Yes. Walk-up/roll-up testing sites are accessible, and onsite staff are available to aid anyone who may need assistance.

I rely on public transportation or paratransit to get around. If I want to get tested for COVID-19, how can I arrange transportation to a testing site?

Please see the County’s testing website and this flowchart for directions on how to secure transportation to a testing site. If you still have questions after reviewing the testing website and flowchart, please contact the County’s Access and Functional Needs Coordinator at afncoordinator@eoc.sccgov.org.

How is the County making sure that its communications about COVID-19 are accessible to people with language access or language processing needs?

The County is taking many steps to ensure that its communications are accessible to every member of the community. The Public Health Department’s entire COVID-19 website is fully translated into five different languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog), and postings include Alt Text functionality. The County is conducting Facebook Live presentations three times per week to share important information in a video-based format, and video presentations include real-time ASL interpretation. The County has also designed signs, flyers, and posters that include informative graphics alongside text to ensure that they are as comprehensible as possible to all.

Does the County offer its COVID-19 materials in accessible formats (hard copies, large print, etc.)?

Yes. If you have an access or functional need and require the County’s COVID-19 materials in an accessible format, please contact the Access and Functional Needs Coordinator at afncoordinator@eoc.sccgov.org for assistance.​​

I cannot wear a face mask for medical or disability-related reasons. Am I required to wear one?

Face coverings are one of the most important tools available to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and anyone who is able to wear a face covering safely must do so. However, the following people are not required to wear face coverings, even while at a business or in places where they cannot maintain social distancing:

  • Very young children.
  • People with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. This includes people who would be unable to remove a face covering without assistance.
  • People who are hearing impaired or are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, if the ability to see each other’s mouths is essential for communication.
  • Others specified in the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings

Businesses should not require you to present a doctor’s note once you explain that you cannot wear a face covering for medical reasons. Please see the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings for more information.

I have a question related to access and functional needs. Where can I go for assistance?

The following resources are available to people with questions related to access and functional needs:

What steps can I take to be as prepared as possible in case of an emergency?

Emergency preparedness is important for everyone, and it is especially vital for people with access and functional needs who may need additional preparations to stay safe during an emergency. All County residents are encouraged to sign up for  notifications, which is a free and easy way to get emergency alerts sent directly to your cell phone or mobile device, landline, or email. You can sign up for AlertSCC notifications here. In addition, the County Office of Emergency Management’s website has resources to help all County residents design a disaster safety plan for their families and loved ones. The following are more specific preparedness guides for people with access and functional needs:

I run a retail business, and I’m not comfortable allowing anyone into my store without a face covering. What can my business do to accommodate shoppers who can’t wear face coverings for medical or disability-related reasons?

Retailers are encouraged to offer accommodations to customers who are unable to wear face coverings for medical or disability-related reasons. Accommodations may include things like offering delivery services, or accepting customers’ shopping lists over the phone or at curbside and bringing the items outside to the customer so they don’t need to enter the store.

I’m not comfortable going shopping in person because I cannot wear a face covering for medical or disability-related reasons. Are there any resources to help me with my shopping?

Delivery services offered by retail and grocery stores are good options for people who are not comfortable shopping in person. There are also free resources like helpinghands.community , a community-based non-profit that provides delivery and other support services.

 

 

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Last updated: 9/28/2020 2:44 PM