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Public Health Order Frequently Asked Questions

Last content update:  1/8/2021​​​​​​

UPDATE: On December 3, 2020, the State issued a new Regional Stay at Home Order that creates five Regions within California and imposes tight restrictions on any Region in which ICU capacity drops below 15%. The Bay Area Health Officers have decided to implement the new restrictions immediately. This decision was based on the recent and alarming increase in the number of Bay Area residents contracting COVID-19, the number of patients hospitalized and in the ICU with COVID-19, and the need to take steps to slow the surge before hospital capacity is completely overwhelmed.

In Santa Clara County, the new State restrictions were issued through the new Mandatory Directive for Implementing State’s Regional Stay at Home OrderThis Directive shall remain in effect until 12:01 a.m. on the day after the California Department of Public Health announces that the County is no longer subject to the Regional Stay at Home Order, unless the County Health Officer modifies or extends it.

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.

The following documents can be reviewed for further information on the Revised Order.

The following documents are the Mandatory Health Officer Directives that specify requirements for businesses and activities:

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The County Health Officer issued new restrictions on December 4, 2020. What are these new restrictions, and why were they put in place?

On December 3, 2020, the State issued a new Regional Stay at Home Order that creates five Regions within California and imposes tight restrictions on any Region in which ICU capacity drops below 15%.  Although the Bay Area Region isn’t projected to hit that number until mid-December, most Bay Area Health Officers have decided to implement the new restrictions immediately.  This decision was based on the recent and alarming increase in the number of Bay Area residents contracting COVID-19, the number of patients hospitalized and in the ICU with COVID-19, and the need to take steps to slow the surge before hospital capacity is completely overwhelmed.

In Santa Clara County, the new restrictions were issued through the Mandatory Directive Implementing the State’s Regional Stay At Home Order and changes to the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations. They include the following:

  • You must stay at home or at your place of residence at all times and may only leave for essential activities (as defined by the State) or for activities explicitly allowed in the State’s Regional Stay at Home Order. You may leave your home at any time for activities that do not involve interaction or gathering with anyone outside your household (such as going for a solo bike ride or walking your dog).
  • Most gatherings, regardless of size, are prohibited. You may no longer gather socially (even outdoors) in groups of up to 3 households. 
  • Worship services, political activities, and cultural ceremonies are allowed outdoors only. These activities must follow applicable State guidance and the County’s Mandatory Directive for Gatherings. Note: Wedding ceremonies are allowed, but wedding receptions are currently prohibited.
  • Critical infrastructure sectors (as defined by the State) may continue to operate in compliance with any applicable State industry guidance, any applicable County Mandatory Directives, and the County’s Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations. Most of these facilities must apply a 20% capacity limit to all indoor spaces open to the public.
  • All retailers may operate indoors and outdoors. Indoor operations are limited to 20% capacity (including for grocery/pharmacy/drug stores).
  • Personal care services businesses, museums/zoos/aquariums, family entertainment centers and other entertainment facilities, smoking lounges, and cardrooms may not operate indoors or outdoors.
  • Limited services businesses may operate for curbside drop-off and pick-up only.
  • Dining establishments (including restaurants, wineries, and bars/brewpubs/distilleries) may not provide on-site meal service, either indoors or outdoors. Dining establishments may only provide curbside pickup, takeaway, and/or delivery service.
  • Indoor recreational facilities are closed. Most outdoor recreational facilities are open, but overnight stays at campgrounds are prohibited.

Which tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy are we in right now?

Like almost every other county in California, Santa Clara County is currently in the Purple Tier (Tier One) of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy (“Blueprint”). The Purple Tier is the most restrictive tier in the Blueprint. The Blueprint and the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance page provide information about the restrictions that apply to different types of businesses in the Purple Tier. (But remember that County restrictions also apply, and they are currently stricter than State restrictions for some types of businesses and activities.)

When will Santa Clara County move out of the Purple Tier?

The State will determine when Santa Clara County may move out of the Purple Tier based on our local data. The State has announced that it will regularly monitor each county’s data and make weekly decisions about whether to move a county into a different 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 orders and the State Public Health Officer’s orders. 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 October 5 Risk Reduction Order?

  • Consistency with the State Blueprint: Unless otherwise specified in the County’s Revised Order or Mandatory Directives, including the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations, businesses are allowed to open to the extent allowed under the State’s Blueprint and the restrictions applicable to the tier to which the County is assigned.
  • Requirements Applicable to All Businesses: The Revised Order continues to require that all businesses follow a set of rules to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, including:
    • 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.
    • Social Distancing Protocol requirements: All businesses (and governmental entities) must complete and submit a Social Distancing Protocol for each of their facilities on the County’s website at COVID19Prepared.org. Social Distancing Protocols submitted prior to October 11, 2020 are no longer valid. Prior Social Distancing Protocols must be filled out using a revised template for the Social Distancing Protocol at COVID19Prepared.org.
    • Positive case reporting: All businesses (and governmental entities) are legally required to report to the Public Health Department within 4 hours at www.sccsafeworkplace.org 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 and comply with all County contact tracing, case investigation, and outbreak investigation measures.
    • Capacity limitation: All businesses must comply with applicable capacity limitations established in the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations, which was most recently updated on November 28, 2020.

When did the local Health Officer Order go into effect?

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

How long will the October 5 Order be in effect?

The local Health Officer Order issued October 5 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?

No. The Order strongly 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.

What does the State’s new “Limited Stay at Home Order” do? Is it really a curfew?

The State’s “Limited Stay at Home Order,” issued on November 19, 2020, is not exactly a curfew. But the order strictly limits the kinds of activities and interactions people can have between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. According to the State Health Officer, these late-night activities “are often non-essential and more likely related to social activities and gatherings that have a higher likelihood of leading to reduced inhibition and reduced likelihood to adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures (e.g., wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distance).”

The State order specifically prohibits all non-essential activities that involve interaction between two or more households from taking place between 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. The State’s essential workforce webpage lists the industry sectors that are considered “essential” for purposes of this order.

You may still leave your home to engage in essential activities, or other activities that do not involve interaction with anyone from another household. For example, you may pick up takeout food from a restaurant (because takeout services at restaurants are essential), go to the grocery store (because grocery stores are essential), or take a walk around your neighborhood alone or with someone you live with (because it does not involve interacting with anyone from another household).

But you may not leave your home to engage in non-essential activities that involve interaction with anyone outside your household (including staff at a non-essential business), or to gather with anyone from another household during this time period. So, for example, you may not go to a restaurant for sit-down meal service (because sit-down service is non-essential), attend an outdoor movie showing (because movie theater operations are non-essential), or meet up with a friend or a family member you do not live with (because you would be gathering with a member of another household).

NOTE: Under the new Regional Stay at Home restrictions effective in Santa Clara County starting on December 6, 2020, almost all non-essential businesses and activities are completely prohibited at all times of day. Therefore, only the small group of businesses and activities that are non-essential but still allowed to operate under the new Regional Stay at Home restrictions will be subject to the “Limited Stay at Home Order” curfew rules. This group includes non-essential retail, outdoor worship services/cultural ceremonies/political activities, some outdoor youth/collegiate/professional sports, outdoor gyms and fitness facilities, outdoor pools (but not hot tubs or saunas, which are prohibited at all times of day), and non-essential limited services (which are open for curbside only). Under the curfew rules, these activities are allowable only between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.

My business is allowed to operate under the new Regional Stay at Home restrictions, but it’s not considered “essential,” so I’m subject to the State’s “curfew” rules. To comply with the “curfew” rules, my business is closing its doors to the public at 10:00 p.m. and opening its doors to the public at 5:00 a.m. Are my employees allowed to stay onsite and continue working after we’ve stopped letting in members of the public, or to come in before we open to the public?

If a non-essential business (that is allowed to operate under the new Regional Stay at Home restrictions) closes its doors to the public at or shortly before 10:00 p.m., employees may remain at the worksite for a reasonable time after 10:00 p.m., but only to conduct activities that are necessary to close up the business for the night. Employees may not remain at the worksite to carry out other work duties that are not related to closing, and they must leave the premises immediately after completing their closing duties. Similarly, employees of a business my arrive at a worksite of a non-essential business prior to 5:00 a.m. to carry out work duties necessary to open the business for the day, but they may not carry out duties prior to 5:00 a.m. that are not related to opening.

 

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GATHERINGS

At this time, the State Health Officer has generally prohibited gatherings of all kinds statewide. The new Regional Stay at Home Order, which the County Health Officer has adopted, imposes even stricter limitations on gatherings. Currently, the only gatherings allowed in Santa Clara County are outdoor worship services, outdoor cultural ceremonies, and outdoor political activities. All gatherings must comply with the County’s Mandatory Directive on Gatherings and any applicable COVID-19 Industry Guidance documents from the State.

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?

No. COVID-19 is still circulating in our community. Gathering together with people from other households, especially indoors, is very risky, especially during the current spike in COVID-19 cases. 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 worship services, outdoor political activities, and outdoor cultural ceremonies, all gatherings are prohibited until further notice. For the limited types of 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 and any applicable COVID-19 Industry Guidance documents from the State.

Who is allowed to attend a permissible 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.

The Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations specifies a limit on the number of people who can attend an outdoor gathering. Does that limit reflect the total number of people who can attend over the course of the entire event, or the maximum number of people who can be present at the gathering at any one time?

The limit is the total number of people who can attend over the course of the entire gathering. This means that if your gathering reaches the limit on the number of attendees, 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 the current maximum number of people may be on that list.

Are indoor gatherings allowed?

No. Under State rules, all indoor gatherings are currently prohibited in Santa Clara County.

Are wedding ceremonies allowed? What about wedding receptions?

Wedding ceremonies are allowed (outdoors only) 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 (outdoor only) subject to the requirements in the Mandatory Directive on Gatherings​.

Can I host a dinner party or cocktail party?

No. Currently, all social gatherings are prohibited.

How is the County making sure that COVID-19 doesn’t spread during the kinds of worship services, political activities, and cultural ceremonies 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, drive-through, or other vehicle-based activities if everyone stays inside their own car or truck? 

Yes.  The County Health Officer does not prohibit these activities, and 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.”  Everyone occupying the same vehicle must be from the same household, and people must remain inside their vehicles at all times. Any organization hosting a car-based event must complete, submit, and implement a Revised Social Distancing Protocol that covers the event.

Under the State’s Limited Stay at Home Order, non-essential businesses and activities may operate only between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.  This includes drive-in movie theaters and all other non-essential vehicle-based activities.  Note that drive-in movie theaters must follow all applicable rules in the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Indoor and Drive-In Movie Theaters.

My organization is hosting a car-based event. Are we allowed to hand out prizes, gifts, or other items to participants?

Yes. Hosts of car-based events may place items into the trunks of participants’ cars or pass items through the windows of participants’ vehicles so long as participants remain inside their vehicles at all times.  Staff and participants must wear face coverings at all times during hand-offs or pick-ups, and any staff member who is handing out items must practice good hand hygiene throughout the event (using handwashing stations or hand sanitizer). 

Note that food operations at car-based gatherings may require advance approval and oversight by the Department of Environmental Health. Contact the Department of Environmental Health at DEHweb@cep.sccgov.org for further information.

 

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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?

For the most part, yes. Under the State’s new Regional Stay at Home Order, which the County Health Officer has adopted, you must remain in your home except to engage in activities that are explicitly allowed under the Regional Stay at Home Order. There are a few non-essential activities allowed under the Regional Stay at Home Order (like retail shopping and going to an outdoor gym), and you are also allowed to leave your home for an activity that doesn’t involve interaction with anyone outside your household (for example, to go for a solo bike ride or walk your dog). But you must remain in your home at all other times. In general, all travel is strongly discouraged, especially for non-essential purposes like leisure trips or for non-essential business, and should be postponed until after the current surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations subsides. Read the Mandatory Directive on Travel for more information.

Do I need to quarantine when I return from traveling outside of the County?

Please note, quarantine guidance has changed as of December, 2020 and has been reflected in the Mandatory Directive on Travel. Under the Mandatory Directive on Travel​, almost everyone who travels into Santa Clara County (directly or through another stopover point) from more than 150 miles away must quarantine for 10 days and monitor for COVID symptoms for 14 days. A person can quarantine by staying at home or at a place of temporary shelter without any contact with people outside their own immediate traveling party or their own household. Information and guidance on quarantine and resources to assist with quarantine are available at www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/contact-tracing.aspx#guidance.

People are only exempt from the mandatory quarantine requirement if they meet certain narrow conditions, set forth in the Mandatory Directive on Travel.

I work at an acute care hospital. If I travel into the County from more than 150 miles away, do I have to quarantine upon arrival?

No. People working at acute care hospitals are exempt from the quarantine requirement in large part because there is a critical need to ensure robust and increased staffing to address COVID-19 hospitalizations.

I am a licensed healthcare provider. If I travel into the County from more than 150 miles away, do I have to quarantine upon arrival?

No. Licensed healthcare providers (as defined by the California Department of Consumer Affairs) are exempt from the quarantine requirement.

I’m a government worker, and the government entity I work for has deemed my work to be an essential governmental function. If I travel into the County from more than 150 miles away, do I have to quarantine upon arrival?

Government workers do not need to quarantine after arrival to Santa Clara County if they traveled solely to perform an essential governmental function (as defined by the governmental entity responsible for those functions). Generally, travel to perform an essential governmental function will be paid for by the government entity. Essential governmental functions may include, but are not limited to, law enforcement, fire, health care, and in-person educational instruction.

But if these workers traveled for any other purpose, including for leisure or for anything other than an essential work-related purpose, under the new quarantine guidelines  they do need to quarantine for 10 days and monitor for COVID symptoms for 14 days. They may leave their homes or places of quarantine during this period (1) only to travel to and from work to carry out an essential governmental function, and (2) only if the government entity they work for has determined that it would not have adequate staff to perform the worker’s essential government function if the worker were unable to report to work in person.

I traveled into Santa Clara County from more than 150 miles away to obtain services from a healthcare facility. Do I have to quarantine upon arrival?

You must quarantine, but you may leave your home or place of quarantine to obtain services at a healthcare facility. You must remain in your home or place of quarantine at all other times during your quarantine period. For clarity, if a minor child or other dependent person has traveled to Santa Clara County to obtain services from a healthcare facility, that person’s guardian may leave their home or place of quarantine to accompany the minor child or other dependent person to obtain services at a healthcare facility.

I traveled into Santa Clara County from more than 150 miles away. I am subject to a court order or have a court appearance that requires me to leave my home or place of quarantine during my quarantine period. Am I allowed to do so?

Yes. You may leave your home or place of quarantine in order to comply with the court order or make a court appearance, but you must remain in your home or place of quarantine at all other times during your quarantine period.

I’m an essential critical infrastructure worker as defined by the State. If I travel into the County from more than 150 miles away, do I have to quarantine upon arrival?

Yes, you must quarantine. You may leave your home or place of quarantine to go to work, but only if:

  1. your travel was solely for the purpose of performing essential critical infrastructure work;
  2. you are only going to work now to perform essential critical infrastructure work; and
  3. your employer determines that it would not have sufficient staffing to carry out its essential functions without you working in person.

If 1, 2, and 3 all apply to your situation, you may go to work, but you must remain in your home or place of quarantine at all other times during your quarantine period.

Do I need to get tested for COVID-19 after traveling? If I test negative, can I shorten my quarantine period?

There is no requirement to get tested for COVID-19 after you travel into Santa Clara County, but the Public Health Department recommends that you get tested ideally 6 days after you arrive in the County. Testing negative does not shorten the mandatory quarantine period. You may leave your home or place of quarantine to get tested.

I have traveled to the Bay Area from more than 150 miles away from Santa Clara County. I spent the first four days of my trip visiting a location within 150 miles of Santa Clara County. If I then travel to Santa Clara County, do I have to quarantine? If so, for how long?

Yes. Because your travel originated from more than 150 miles away from Santa Clara County, you must comply with the mandatory quarantine order unless you meet one of the narrow exceptions. But you may count the first four days of your trip toward your quarantine period because you were within 150 miles of Santa Clara County during that time.

My home is more than 150 miles away. I traveled to Santa Clara County for a short trip. Am I allowed to return to my home, or do I have to stay here for a full two weeks to quarantine?

The quarantine requirement does not prohibit you from returning to your home. But when you arrive in Santa Clara County, you cannot leave the place you are staying in Santa Clara County during your short trip. Instead, you must stay at that location and quarantine for the duration of your time in the county, or for 10 days, whichever is shorter.

Is the mandatory quarantine required after travel from 150 miles away or travel from 120 miles away?

Under the County’s Mandatory Directive on Travel, the mandatory 10-day quarantine requirement applies to anyone who traveled into Santa Clara County from more than 150 miles away. On January 6, 2021, the State released a new Travel Advisory recommending a 10-day quarantine for anyone who travels into California from more than 120 miles away. The County’s Mandatory Directive on Travel continues to apply and is mandatory.

Are there any limits on who can use public transit?

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

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.

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 using an online platform (like Airbnb or VRBO) that facilitates short-term rentals? What about booking a hotel room for travel?

Yes, but only for essential travel. You cannot stay at a hotel or short-term if you are traveling for non-essential purposes, such as for tourism, other recreational or leisure purposes, or business travel that can be deferred or avoided. If you are traveling for essential purposes, 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 rentals are safe for everyone. A person may rent out their entire residence, but no person may rent out a portion of their residence (for example, renting out a bedroom through Airbnb or VRBO) while they or any other tenants stay in another portion of the residence.

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.

 

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SPORTS, RECREATION, AND FITNESS

Please note that the State’s Regional Stay at Home Order currently prohibits indoor operations at gyms and fitness centers, indoor operations at recreation facilities, and indoor and outdoor operations at family entertainment centers and other entertainment facilities.

Which sports or recreation activities are prohibited right now?

Under the State’s Regional Stay at Home Order, the following sports and recreation activities are currently prohibited:

  • Indoor sports.
  • Any sports and recreational activities for which participants cannot maintain at least six feet of social distance from one another at all times.
  • Adult recreational team sports.
  • Going to a pro or amateur sporting event as a spectator.  
  • Professional and collegiate sports, unless the activity is outdoors and participants do not come within six feet of one another at any time.
    • Please note that under the Mandatory Directive for Collegiate and Professional Athletics, from November 28, 2020, to 5:00 a.m. on December 21, 2020, any collegiate or professional athletic team or program that travels outside the County to engage in athletic activity prohibited in the County is prohibited from engaging in further athletic activity within Santa Clara County during this time period. Any collegiate or professional athletic team or program that travels outside the County to engage in athletic activity allowed in the County must comply with the Mandatory Directive for Travel.
  • Indoor and outdoor family entertainment centers and other entertainment facilities.
  • Indoor recreation facilities.
  • Indoor gyms and fitness centers. 

You may still participate in sports and athletic/recreational activities with members of your own household, either in your own home or outdoors (but not at prohibited outdoor facilities). For example, so long as no one else joins you, members of your household could do a home workout together, go for a bike ride, or play soccer in the park.

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.

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.
  • Travel into or out of Santa Clara County to participate in youth sports activities that involve interaction between more than one stable group, including traveling to other counties or states to participate in competitive play with other teams, or engaging in activity inside the County with people who have traveled from outside the County (unless they are members of the Program’s stable group).

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.

Do I have to wear a face covering while I exercise?

You may remove your face covering for outdoor exercise so long as you stay at least 6 feet away from everyone not in your household at all times.

Am I allowed to go to the gym?

Yes, but only for outdoor exercise. The State’s Regional Stay at Home Order prohibits gyms and fitness facilities from operating indoors. Note that gyms and fitness facilities may still operate outdoors.

For outdoor operations, the State's COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Gyms and Fitness Centers lists the rules gym owners and clients must follow to make sure that working out at fitness facilities is safe. Please read the State's Guidance 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?

Yes, but only outdoors.

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).

Are group fitness classes allowed?

Yes, but only outdoors, and they must follow all the rules in the Mandatory Directive on Gatherings and the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Gyms and Fitness Centers.

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

Yes, but only outdoors.

Can I take my kids to the playground?

Yes, playgrounds may be open so long as they are outdoors. Indoor playgrounds and indoor amusement centers (such as bounce houses and ball pits) must remain closed, but outdoor playgrounds may 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 at least 6 feet of physical distance from people from different households.​

Are children’s fitness facilities allowed to be open indoors?

No. 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 not operate indoors, even to provide classes and camps to children.

Are adult pool-based fitness classes (such as swimming or water aerobics) allowed?

Only at outdoor pools, and only so long as all the rules in the Mandatory Directive on Gatherings and the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Gyms and Fitness Centers are followed.

Are pool-based classes for children allowed?

Only at outdoor pools, and only if they comply with all the rules in the Mandatory Directive for Programs Serving Children or Youth.

 

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EDUCATION PROGRAMS

Where can I find information on childcare, schools, and institutions of higher education?

Please visit the County’s Coronavirus and Education Programs​ page for information, guidance, and answers to frequently asked questions related to education programs.

 

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BUSINESSES

Are tech businesses allowed to operate their offices?

Both the State’s Order and the County Health Officer’s Revised Risk Reduction Order require all businesses to maximize telework, and bring workers into their offices only if the employee cannot complete their job duties remotely. Because a lot of tech employees can do their work remotely, many tech employees will not be allowed to come into their offices.

What steps does my business need to take to comply with the local Health Officer Order issued October 5?

First, if your business has a facility in the County that is used by workers or the public, you must complete and implement a Revised Social Distancing Protocol using the most recent (October 11) version, which must be submitted to the County at www.COVID19Prepared.org using the County’s online form. Social Distancing Protocols submitted prior to October 11 are no longer valid. 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. NOTE: All businesses must also comply with the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations.

Additionally, every business must comply with the State’s Stay at Home Order, including the order issued August 28, 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 State or County 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?

Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations explains the rules for limiting the number of people inside your business facility. Please note that these rules were updated on December 4, 2020 for many businesses due to an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Please also visit www.sccgov.org/covidcapacity for helpful instructions on how to calculate the maximum capacity for your facility.

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, as specified in the California Department of Public Health’s mandatory guidance on Use of Temporary Structures for Outdoor Business Operations. A facility may use partitions or barriers around or within the facility, which do not count as closed sides as long as they are no more than 3 feet tall as measured from the floor, and do not impede the free flow of air through the entire facility. A partition or barrier that is more than 3 feet tall is considered a closed side. Fences and screens that do not impede airflow are not considered closed sides for purposes of determining whether an area is outdoors.

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.

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

Yes. When personal care services businesses are allowed to operate, the Personal Care Services 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.

Note that personal care services businesses are currently prohibited from operating indoors or outdoors.

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.

Note that personal care services businesses are currently prohibited from operating indoors or outdoors.

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).

Note that personal care services businesses are currently prohibited from operating indoors or outdoors.

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, but only outdoors. Organizations, campaigns, businesses, and individuals engaged in these types of activities in-person must complete and submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol to the County at www.covid19prepared.org, and ensure that all staff and volunteers comply with the Protocol.

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.

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

Real estate viewings must only occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same Household and one individual showing the unit (except that in person visits are not allowed when the occupant is present in the Residence). All showings must also follow the requirements of both the October 5 Health Officer Order and the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Real Estate Transactions. 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 Revised Social Distancing Protocols?

Yes. Real estate agents are required to complete, submit, and implement a Revised 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 on-site dining services?

Yes. As healthcare facilities, hospitals are exempt from the prohibition on on-site dining services. This means that hospital cafeterias may provide indoor or outdoor dining services. The cafeterias must follow applicable health and safety measures 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 or government facilities allowed to be open for on-site dining services?

No. If your business facility has an on-site cafeteria, the cafeteria may not provide on-site dining services. But the cafeteria 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.

Governmental facilities may only allow on-site dining in their cafeterias if the government agency determines that closing the cafeteria for on-site dining would impede or interfere with an essential governmental function.

The Regional Stay at Home Order closes all on-site dining services, including outdoor dining. If a restaurant is providing takeout meals, can customers still sit at the restaurant’s outdoor tables or at a common eating area not controlled by the restaurant to eat their takeout?

No. While on-site dining is prohibited in the County, customers are not allowed to eat their takeout meals on the restaurant’s premises  (either indoors or outdoors) or at a common eating area (such as a food court) associated with the restaurant.

Restaurants must close off outdoor eating areas so the public cannot access them. This may require taking down or removing tables and chairs, blocking off seating areas, and/or posting signage stating clearly that the area is closed and may not be used by customers for eating or drinking. For common eating areas (such as food courts, city-provided seating, or other areas associated with more than one restaurant), the entity that manages the common eating area is responsible for closing it to the public. For example, if a mall runs an outdoor dining area for multiple restaurants in the mall’s food court, the mall must take steps to close public access to the dining area.​

The above restriction applies to all establishments covered by the Mandatory Directive on Dining, Bars, Wineries, and Smoking Lounges, including restaurants, coffee shops, bars/brewpubs/distilleries, wineries/tasting rooms, other food facilities, and smoking lounges.

I submitted a Revised 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?

The COVID-19 Prepared checkmark sign only authenticates that you have completed and submitted your Revised 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 Revised 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 Revised Social Distancing Protocol requires employers to identify and exclude “close contacts” of positive cases from the worksite for 10 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 10 days from the date of their last contact with the infected person, and be asked to monitor for COVID symptoms for 14 days​.

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.

I am an esthetician or other personal care service provider working in close proximity to unmasked clients. What type of PPE must I use?

Working close to the mouths and noses of unmasked clients is a high-risk activity. If you choose to provide such services, you must wear an N-95 mask along with eye protection such as glasses, goggles, or a face shield. Please note that every individual who wears an N-95 mask must be fit tested and trained on proper use and handling.

Note that personal care services businesses are currently prohibited from operating indoors or outdoors.

Where can I purchase N-95 masks?

Estheticians can obtain N-95s through many suppliers. The County does not endorse any particular supplier. The following is a partial list of vendors you may wish to consider. You should independently evaluate any supplier, including the ones listed below, and confirm that the mask you are getting is on the CDC-approved list found here:

www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/N95list1sect3-u.html

Vendor Website​
Envir​​oSafety www.envirosafetyproducts.com
N95 Ma​sk Co n95maskco.com
Blue Beat Digital bluebeatsales.com
CIA Medical www.ciamedical.com
StatLab www.statlab.com
NDS Solutions nds-solutions.com
PureOrange www.pureorange.com
Grainger www.grainger.com
OMBA Import Export Inc ombatrading.com

 

I have never used an N-95 mask before. Where can I get fit testing and training for proper use and handling of N-95 masks?

The County does not endorse any specific fit testing and training providers. The following is a partial list of vendors you may wish to consider:

Ven​dor Website
Envirosaf​etech www.envirosafetech.com
Medishare www.medishareehs.com

 

How long can I wear an N-95 mask? Can I use it multiple times?

Please refer to the training you receive, which will incorporate the latest Cal/OSHA guidance. More information can be found here:

www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/N95-mask-questions.html

www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/respiratory.pdf

www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/Cal-OSHA-Guidance-for-respirator-shortages.pdf

Can I use an N95 mask with an exhalation valve?

N95 masks with exhalation valves do not protect others from droplets leaving the mask.

I am unable to obtain an N-95 mask. Can I use a KN-95 mask as an alternative?

No. KN-95 masks are not certified by NIOSH and may not afford the same level of protection as N-95 masks. Therefore, these should not be used in lieu of properly fitted N-95 mask.

My industry used to have a County Health Officer Mandatory Directive – why can’t I find it now?

The County Health Officer has determined that the State restrictions on certain industries are strong enough that additional County rules are no longer required. Therefore, the following Directives have been rescinded and are no longer in effect:

Do I have to wear a face covering while I’m at work? What if I’m alone in my cubicle or sitting far apart from other people in an open workspace?

The Revised Risk Reduction Order adopts the California Department of Public Health’s mandatory Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings (“State Guidance”), which was revised on November 16, 2020. Under the revised State Guidance, everyone must wear a face covering at all times when they are outside their home, with only a few exceptions. While at work, if you are indoors, you must keep your face covering on at all times unless you are in an office or room all by yourself. If you work in a cubicle or in an open workspace, you must keep your face covering on if there is anyone else in the same office or room as you, even if the office or room is very large. Please note that the Health Officer strongly encourages everyone to wear a face covering even when they are alone in an office or room if any person who is not a member of the same household visits that room. This is because aerosols stay airborne for an extended period of time. It is always safest to wear a face covering if you are able to do so.

You may remove your face covering to eat and drink at work so long as you maintain at least six feet of social distance from others, but you must put your face covering back on as soon as you are finished eating or drinking. Congregating with coworkers to eat indoors is unsafe and is not allowed. When possible, workers are strongly encouraged to take their meals during the workday outdoors, or if not, to eat alone at their own desk/workspace or in their vehicles. Under the Health Officer’s Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations, employees cannot eat in breakrooms in workplaces, as these have been shown to be major sources of workplace COVID-19 transmission.

I own a construction company or am a Jobsite Safety Accountability Supervisor for a large construction site. Who is the County's designated official to receive reports and where do I send reports and remediation plans that must be submitted to the County?

The County’s designated official is Lead Enforcement Officer Ray Maiden. Reports and remediation plans can be sent to constructiondocs@eoc.sccgov.org​.

What is the definition of a “healthcare facility”?

As used in the October 5 Revised 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 Revised Risk Reduction Order and Mandatory Directives?

The County’s definition of “healthcare facility” (as used in the Revised 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 they are currently prohibited under the State’s Regional Stay at Home Order. 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 esthetician may not provide their services under current public health orders. 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 healthcare facility, and the esthetician may provide their services alongside the physician.

Are driving schools allowed to operate right now?

No. Driving schools are prohibited under the new Regional Stay at Home restrictions.

Are landscaping businesses allowed to operate under the Regional Stay at Home Order restrictions?

Yes.

 

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BREAKROOMS

Can I eat in the breakroom at my office or worksite?

No (unless your employer falls within one of the narrow legal exemptions). Eating indoors in a breakroom is one of the highest-risk activities during this pandemic because breakrooms are usually small with poor ventilation, and face coverings must be removed in order to eat. Employee breakrooms have proven to be one of the most common causes of workplace COVID-19 transmission.

Under the Health Officer’s Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations, most employers are required to close their indoor breakrooms and make sure employees don’t use them to eat or drink (even if they are alone inside the breakroom at the time), or to gather. Breakrooms can still be used to store and heat up food, as long as employees don’t eat it in the breakroom. And employees can also use breakrooms alone for purposes provided by law, like meeting lactation needs. You must eat outdoors or alone in your vehicle (the safest options), or at your personal desk/workspace. You cannot eat with coworkers unless you do so outdoors and maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing. Eating alone is still safest.

What if I’m just going into the breakroom to eat a quick snack or take a quick drink of water?

The length of time you spend eating or drinking in the breakroom or break area does not matter. You may not eat or drink in the breakroom or break area, even for very short periods.

Who is responsible for following and enforcing the breakroom limitation requirement?

Businesses are responsible for limiting employees’ access to breakrooms/break areas, for setting up alternatives (such as outdoor break areas) where feasible, for training employees on the breakroom limitations and available alternatives, and for ensuring employees’ compliance with these requirements.  

If a break area is shared by multiple businesses, the entity that controls the physical space is responsible for limiting access to the break area and setting up alternatives where feasible. Additionally, each individual business with access to the shared space is responsible for ensuring that its own employees follow the breakroom limitations. For example, if a shopping mall has break areas used by the employees of multiple tenant businesses, the shopping mall must limit access to the break areas and set up alternatives where feasible, and each tenant business must ensure its own employees comply with the breakroom limitations.

How can my business get an exemption from the breakroom closure requirement?

Other than acute care hospitals, very few businesses will be exempt from the requirement to limit access to breakrooms in compliance with the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations. Businesses may keep their breakrooms open only if they can demonstrate both of the following:

  1. Federal or state labor or workplace safety laws prohibit the business from limiting access to its indoor breakrooms and break areas; AND
  2. The business is unable to implement any alternatives (such as setting up outdoor spaces where personnel can maintain distancing of at least six feet from one another while taking breaks; staggering break times to ensure employees have sufficient time for outdoor or other socially distanced breaks; or any other appropriate measures).

This means that in order to keep your indoor breakrooms/break areas open to employees for eating, drinking, and resting, there must be a valid legal reason why you cannot close your breakrooms. Concerns about inclement weather, the inconvenience of alternative measures, or other similar issues are not sufficient to be exempt from the breakroom closure requirement. 

If you are not sure whether there is a valid legal reason why you cannot close your breakrooms, please consult with your own legal counsel.

I’ve identified a valid legal reason why my business cannot close its indoor breakrooms, and I am unable to implement any alternatives.  What steps do I need to take now?

If your business meets the requirements of section 3(b) of the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations, you may allow employees to use your indoor breakrooms, but you must develop a written protocol that explains all of the following:

  1. What legal reason prevents you from closing your indoor breakrooms; AND
  2. Why you cannot implement alternatives to indoor breakrooms; AND
  3. What steps you are taking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in your indoor breakrooms (see next FAQ for more details on potential mitigation measures).

You must post a copy of this written protocol in or near your breakroom(s), and must also provide a copy to a County Enforcement Officer upon request.

I’ve identified a valid legal reason why my business cannot close its indoor breakrooms, and I am unable to implement any alternatives.  What are some steps I can take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in my indoor breakrooms?

If your business is exempt from the requirement to close its indoor breakrooms, consider taking the following steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in your indoor breakrooms:

  • Staggering break times, in compliance with wage and hour laws
  • Limiting the number of employees using the breakroom at the same time
  • Increasing ventilation in the breakroom (see the County’s Guidance for Ventilation and Air Filtration Systems)
  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces
  • Configuring the breakroom to promote social distancing when employees are using it (by removing tables/chairs, putting up barriers between seating areas, etc.)

Note: You are required to create a written protocol that documents the legal basis for keeping your indoor breakrooms open and listing any risk reduction measures you implement in your indoor breakrooms.  You must post a copy of this written protocol in or near your breakroom(s), and must also provide a copy to a County Enforcement Officer upon request.

I’ve identified a valid legal reason why my business cannot close its indoor breakrooms, and I am unable to implement any alternatives. I’ve developed a written protocol as required by the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations. Do I need to submit this protocol to the County?

No, but you must post a copy of this written protocol in or near your breakroom(s), and must also provide a copy to a County Enforcement Officer upon request.​

Why aren’t acute care hospitals required to close their indoor breakrooms?

Because there is a critical need to ensure robust and efficient healthcare services to address increased COVID-19 hospitalizations countywide, acute care hospitals are not required to prevent their staff from using indoor breakrooms for eating, drinking, or resting. Additionally, many acute care hospitals have had COVID-19 safety protocols in place for their indoor breakrooms for some time. Acute care hospitals are strongly encouraged to limit access to indoor breakrooms whenever feasible and to take all available steps to make their breakrooms as safe as possible for personnel.

Does the breakroom closure in the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations require workers to take their breaks outdoors?

No.  Employees who wish to take their breaks indoors may do so alone at their own desks/workstations.  However, whenever feasible, the Health Officer strongly encourages all employees to take their breaks outdoors, in outdoor break areas set up by the employer, or alone in the employee’s own vehicle.

NOTE: At businesses where designated indoor breakrooms are closed for eating, drinking, and resting, businesses may not allow groups of employees to take their breaks together (or one after another) in another room, because this would present the very same COVID-19 transmission risks and turn that room into a breakroom, which must be closed for eating, drinking, and resting.

I’ve closed the indoor breakrooms and break areas at my business facility, and I want to set up an outdoor break area for my employees. Are there any requirements for outdoor break areas?

Outdoor break areas must qualify as an “outdoor facility” as defined by the State. If they do not meet this definition, they are considered indoor and must remain closed under the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations. Please see the outdoor facility FAQ on this page for more details. Any outdoor break areas must also allow all individuals in the area to easily maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing at all times. Additionally, all temporary structures must comply with any applicable laws, regulations, or permitting requirements.

 

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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 Worksite Case and Contact Reporting 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 at the Contact Tracing webpage​.

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 October 5?

Under the Health Officer Order issued October 5, you must wear a face covering whenever required to do so by the State’s Guidance on Face Coverings, which the State revised on November 16, 2020. The State’s guidance requires you to wear a face covering whenever you are not in your home, with the following exceptions:

  • Persons in a car alone or solely with members of their own household.
  • Persons who are working in an office or in a room alone.
  • Persons who are actively eating or drinking provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence.
  • Persons who are outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing from others not in their household. Such persons must have a face covering with them at all times and must put it on if they are within 6 feet of others who are not in their household.
  • Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
  • Workers who are required to wear respiratory protection.
  • Persons who are specifically exempted from wearing face coverings by other CDPH guidance.

Additionally, the Health Officer strongly encourages you to wear a face covering even when you are in a room or office alone if someone outside of your household may visit the room or office. This is because aerosols stay airborne for an extended period of time and may be lingering in the air when someone enters.

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.

What types of face coverings are safe to wear? Can I wear a face shield instead?

Face coverings that you wear to work at or visit a business may be either disposable surgical masks or reusable cloth masks that you make or buy. Wearing a reusable cloth mask is encouraged to conserve supplies of surgical masks for healthcare workers and other workers who need them, and to reduce waste. The Health Officer strongly encourages everyone to choose face coverings that:

If each of us wears a mask, everyone is protected. You can make yours using two or more layers of common fabric, like cotton. 

  • Have at least two layers of material.
  • Fit snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin, hooking around your ears or tying behind your head. Do not wear your face covering below your nose or with the top tucked underneath your chin.

The following categories of face coverings do not provide enough protection against the spread of COVID-19, and the Health Officer strongly discourages wearing them:

  • Neck gaiters and single-layer cloth face coverings, because they either fit too loosely or are too thin to offer enough protection.
  • Face coverings with an exhalation valve, because they allow unfiltered air (which may contain droplets and aerosols) to be released.

Face shields are not equivalent to face coverings. Face coverings worn tightly over the nose, mouth, and chin help prevent the wearer from spreading potentially infected respiratory droplets and aerosols to other people. Face shields have a different purpose, which is to protect the wearer’s eyes in situations where eye protection is required (e.g., while performing medical procedures close to a patient). Based on available evidence, face shields don’t offer the same protection against spread of droplets and aerosols that properly worn face coverings do. You can certainly wear a face shield over a face covering if you want to, but you cannot wear a face shield instead of a face covering in situations where you are required to wear a face covering. (However, because face shields with cloth drapes on the bottom are likely better than no protection at all, if you are exempt from wearing a face covering for a medical or disability-related reason, consider whether you would be able to wear a face shield with a drape, which provides some level of protection without sitting tightly on the face.)

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 or people who are communicating with someone else who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • 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.
  • People who are outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet social distance from others not in their household.
  • Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.

Do I need a doctor’s note to enter a business without a face covering if I have a medical condition or a disability 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 or disability-related 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 Revised 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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REVISED SOCIAL DISTANCING PROTOCOL

Does the Order issued October 5 make any changes to the Social Distancing Protocol requirement for businesses?

Yes. The Social Distancing Protocol template has been updated (it is now called the Revised Social Distancing Protocol), and the Order issued October 5 requires all businesses with a facility in the County used by workers or the public to complete, submit, and implement a Revised Protocol for each facility they operate. Businesses must submit their Revised Protocols to the County at www.COVID19prepared.org using the County’s online form. Social Distancing Protocol submitted before October 11, 2020 are no longer valid.

Which entities have to complete a Revised Social Distancing Protocol?

All governmental entities and all businesses (including non-profits, educational entities, and non-governmental organizations) that have a facility in Santa Clara County that is visited by workers or members of the public must complete and submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol. Businesses and governmental entities that have multiple facilities in the County must submit a separate Protocol for each facility.

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 (October 11) version and submit it at www.COVID19prepared.org using the County’s online form. Social Distancing Protocol submitted prior to October 11, 2020 are no longer valid.

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

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

Why are Revised Social Distancing Protocols required?

The Revised 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 or governmental entity need to do to comply with the Revised Social Distancing Protocol requirements?

To comply with the Revised Social Distancing Protocol requirements, your business or governmental entity must do the following:

  1. Complete a Revised Social Distancing Protocol for each facility or worksite in the County used by workers or the public, using the updated (October 11) version of the template found in the online form. If your business or governmental entity does not operate a facility or worksite, but provides services to multiple facilities or worksites that your business or entity does not own or operate, then you must fill out one Revised Social Distancing Protocol covering your operations.
  2. Sign and submit the completed Revised Protocol to the County using the online form. You may not submit the Revised Protocol by email, hard copy delivery, or in any other form. It must be submitted using the online form.​
  3. Distribute a copy of the Revised Protocol to all workers (employees, volunteers, contractors, etc.) that work at the facility or worksite. If your business or governmental entity provides services to multiple facilities or worksites that your business or entity does not own or operate, you must distribute the Revised 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 Revised 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 Revised Protocol using the online form.)
  5. Post the signage required in the Revised 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 Revised Social Distancing Protocol.

Who can complete the Revised Social Distancing Protocol for my business?

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

Yes. All Revised 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 Revised 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.

Does the County review and approve each Revised Social Distancing Protocol?

No. Although the Revised 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 Revised Social Distancing Protocols are posted as submitted, and the County is not responsible for their content. The County is, however, enforcing the requirement that Revised Social Distancing Protocols must be submitted and implemented. If your business fails to submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol, your business is subject to enforcement action.

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

“Required” boxes must be checked or filled out by every single business submitting a Revised 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 Revised Protocol does not comply with the Order.

What is a “fictitious business name”?

The second box in the Revised 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 Revised 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 Revised Social Distancing Protocol for their whole operation and do not need to complete a new Revised 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 Revised Protocol to the owner or operator of each place they perform services (in addition to providing the Revised Protocol to all workers).

If a scattered-site business has a facility (like a headquarters office or a maintenance yard), the Revised 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 Revised 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 Revised 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 Revised Social Distancing Protocol form for each location.

Does the Order issued October 5 require construction-related businesses to complete and submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol?

Yes. Construction-related businesses must submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol under the Order issued October 5, 2020. 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 Revised Social Distancing Protocol?

It depends. All businesses must complete, submit, and implement a Revised 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 Revised 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. (Note: The examples below are illustrative only. Some businesses listed in the examples may be closed to the public under current Health Officer orders. Please review the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations and any industry-specific guidance or Directives to make sure you know all the rules that apply to your 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 Revised 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 Revised 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 Revised 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 Revised 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 Revised Social Distancing Protocol.

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

Yes.

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

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

I filled out my Revised 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 Revised Social Distancing Protocol and signage.

The Revised 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.

 

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CAPACITY LIMITATIONS

Where can I find information about capacity limitations?

Please review the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations and visit www.sccgov.org/covidcapacity for information on capacity limitations, instructions on how to calculate the capacity limitation for your facility, and templates for capacity limitation signage. Please note that these rules were updated on December 4, 2020 for many businesses due to an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Which rooms in my facility are subject to capacity limitations?

Capacity limitations apply to every room or area in your facility in which members of the public spend significant time or engage in regulated activities. Here are some examples of rooms that are likely capacity-limited for different types of facilities (Note: only applicable when these facilities are allowed to open indoors):

  • Indoor grocery stores and retail stores : Sales floors, checkout areas
  • Indoor museums, zoos, and aquariums: Galleries, exhibit halls
  • Indoor gyms and fitness facilities: Exercise floors, fitness areas, group fitness rooms, locker rooms
  • Indoor dining facilities: Dining rooms, lobbies
  • Indoor family entertainment centers: Activity or entertainment areas
  • Indoor cardrooms: Gaming areas
  • Indoor personal care services businesses: Client service areas
  • Indoor limited services businesses: Pickup/drop-off areas​
  • Any facility hosting an indoor gathering (including places of worship, movie theaters, and private residences): Gathering areas

The above list is not all-inclusive, and other rooms may be subject to capacity limitations as well depending on how your facility is laid out and how it is used. Generally, restrooms, hallways, and other rooms where members of the public don’t spend much time are not subject to capacity limitations, but physical distancing must always be maintained.

If a room in my facility isn’t subject to a capacity limitation, do I still have to limit the number of people who are inside of it at the same time?

Yes. You must always limit the number of people inside each room to ensure that everyone is able to maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from everyone outside their household at all times.

My business is a shopping mall. How do I calculate my Reduced Maximum Capacity?

To calculate the overall Reduced Maximum Capacity for the entire shopping mall facility, you must gather the current Reduced Maximum Capacities for each tenant business that is currently operating in the mall, then add all the tenant businesses’ Reduced Maximum Capacities together for the overall Reduced Maximum Capacity of the entire shopping mall. Note: If a tenant business is currently closed to the public, you may not include it in your calculations.

Do personnel/staff members count toward the Health Officer capacity limitation?

Yes. The Health Officer capacity limitation sets the maximum number of people who may be in any capacity-limited room/area. This includes both members of the public and personnel/staff.

If I have a very small facility, can I have 1 employee and 1 customer inside the facility at the same time (even though that’s above my Reduced Maximum Capacity)?

Yes. For very small facilities that are allowed to be open to the public indoors where the Reduced Maximum Capacity is 1 (or less than 1), you may have 1 customer and 1 employee inside the store at the same time. Your Reduced Maximum Capacity signs should say “2.”

What happens if I calculate my Reduced Maximum Capacity and the result isn’t a whole number?

You may round up to the nearest whole number (and rounding up is allowed even if your decimal is below .5). For example, if you calculate your Reduced Maximum Capacity and the result is 13.4, you may round up to 14. The calculator tool on the capacity limitations page is designed to round up to the nearest whole number for you.

The Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations say that indoor queueing/waiting for takeout is prohibited at dining establishments (restaurants, wineries, and bars/brewpubs/breweries). Are customers allowed to go inside the dining establishment to place an order?

Yes. Dining establishment lobbies, including at fast food/quick service restaurants, may be open to the public, and customers who choose to order take-out at a dining establishment may form a line indoors to order their food. But customers may not wait inside the restaurant for their food once it has been ordered. Note that customers who do form a line indoors count against the facility’s capacity limitation, and they must always maintain appropriate social distancing and wear face coverings as required by State and County Health Officer Orders.

Do any capacity limitations apply to outdoor facilities or worksites?

Yes. Businesses must limit outdoor capacity to ensure that everyone at the site can easily maintain at least six feet of social distance from everyone else outside their own household at all times, which may require limiting the number of workers or members of the public who are at the site at any time. Outdoor gatherings may not exceed 100 people and must comply with the Mandatory Directive on Gatherings.

How do I calculate gross square footage? What about net square footage?

Gross square footage is the total square footage of a room/area. For most rooms, this will require multiplying the length of the room (in feet) times the width (in feet). To calculate the net square footage, you must calculate the gross square footage, then subtract all the areas of the room/area that are not open to the public (such as employee-only storage areas) or are not available for active use (because fixtures like boilers or art installations are in the way).

Where did the density limitation numbers in the capacity limitation chart come from?

The density limitation numbers are based on the California Building Code and other public health considerations.

What is a “posted maximum occupancy,” and how can I find it?

All rooms/areas within commercial buildings have a maximum occupancy that is determined by the Fire Marshal based on the California Building Code. The maximum occupancy sets the limit on how many people can use the room/area at once under normal circumstances (but note that the current Health Officer Order sets more stringent requirements on some facilities, as explained above). Under the Building Code, in some rooms/areas, the maximum occupancies must be posted near the main exit. Most rooms used for assembly, dining, and drinking will have posted maximum occupancies.

One of the rooms in my facility has multiple uses, and the different uses are subject to different capacity limitations. How do I determine which capacity limitation applies?

If a room is being used simultaneously for multiple activities that have different capacity limitations, you must apply the strictest capacity limitation that applies to any of the room’s activities.

My facility has multiple rooms that are used regularly by customers. The only posted maximum occupancy sign I have at my facility applies to the entire facility, not to individual rooms. How do I calculate my capacity limitation?

Generally, as explained above, the capacity limitation calculation should be conducted for individual rooms/areas. However, if you have a posted maximum occupancy for your entire facility, you may use that number and calculate one maximum capacity for the entire facility. But you will need to take steps to spread out your customers and staff to make sure that they are evenly spread throughout the facility and do not cluster together in any particular room.

The local Fire Marshal gave my business facility a different capacity limitation than the one I got using the square footage calculations listed on the capacity limitations page. Which capacity limitation do I use?

If you’ve calculated your Reduced Maximum Capacity using the information and tools listed on the County’s COVID-19 Capacity Limitations page, but your local Fire Marshal has determined and communicated to you a different Reduced Maximum Capacity for your facility or for a capacity-limited room or area in the facility, you must apply the stricter of the two capacity limits.

Do I have to enforce the capacity limitations at my facility? If so, how should I do that?

 Unless your facility is an acute care hospital, you must develop and implement “metering” procedures to make sure that the number of people in your facility never exceeds the facility’s Reduced Maximum Capacity. You can choose whichever metering procedures work best for your facility, but you must be able to accurately track the number of people in your facility at all times. For example, a grocery store may post employees at all entrances and exits and have these employees track the number of people entering and exiting the facility. Similarly, a government office with a waiting area may designate a worker at the front desk or counter to monitor the number of people in the waiting area. You must write down your metering procedures and provide them to any County Enforcement Officer who asks to see them.​

 

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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.

 

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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

Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.

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?

If a customer is unable to wear a face covering for medical or disability-related reasons, retailers may not deny entry to that customer just because they are not wearing a face covering. But retailers are strongly encouraged to offer accommodations to these customers so that they can access the retailer’s services without entering the business facility. 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: 1/15/2021 10:51 AM