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Public Health Orders


Last content update: 10/13/2020

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

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

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

  • Indoor pools may now open
  • Indoor movie theaters may now operate, but they must limit their capacity to the lesser of 25% of normal capacity or 100 people
  • Indoor worship services are now allowed, but they must limit their capacity to the lesser of 25% of normal capacity or 100 people
  • Indoor dining operations and wineries may now operate, but they must limit their capacity to the lesser of 25% of normal capacity or 100 people
  • Bars, brewpubs, and breweries may now operate outdoors
  • Some family entertainment centers may now operate indoors, but only those facilities used for naturally distanced activities (such as bowling alleys and climbing walls). These facilities must limit their capacity to 25% of normal
  • Cardrooms may now operate indoors, but they must limit their capacity to 25% of normal
  • Indoor shopping malls no longer have a capacity limitation, but common areas must remain closed. Note that the Mandatory Directive for Dining does not allow food courts in shopping malls to open any indoor dining areas
  • Retail businesses and Libraries no longer have a capacity limitation
  • Gyms and fitness centers may increase their capacity limit to 25% of normal. This also applies also to indoor sports and dance facilities (e.g., gymnastics, martial arts, fencing, and Zumba facilities)
  • Museums and zoos may increase their capacity limit to 50% of normal

Note: All businesses must ensure that everyone visiting their facility is able to maintain at least 6-foot social distance from everyone not in their household.  All businesses are responsible for enforcing this requirement at their facilities.

See the following documents for further information on the Revised Order.

The following Mandatory County Health Officer Directives have been rescinded and are no longer in effect:


Testing Order Issued September 16, 2020:  The Health Officer issued an amended Order regarding Testing on September 16, 2020. This new order enhances testing access by expanding the number of Essential Workers entitled to testing, makes sure access to testing is easy and quick, and ensures that healthcare providers inform their patients about how to access testing. This Order will go into effect on September 25, 2020.

New Order Issued September 4, 2020:  The Health Officer issued a new Order regarding influenza vaccinations on September 4, 2020. This Order will go into effect on September 8, 2020.

This information is provided to clarify prohibited and allowable activities while the Shelter in Place Order is in effect. Please remember when reading this information and deciding whether to submit a question that the goal of the Order is to maximize the number of people who are staying home. The Order’s exemptions for allowable activities are intended to be narrow. Please limit physical interactions and stay home as much as possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19.


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Executive Summary of the Revised Order Issued October 5, 2020   NEW PDF​

The Revised Risk Reduction Order, which will go into effect when the County moves into Tier 3 (the Orange Tier) under the State’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” generally allows all businesses in the County to operate if the State allows them to be open. Under the Revised Risk Reduction Order, many additional activities and business operations can resume, including indoor dining and indoor gatherings. Importantly, this does not mean that the Health Officer considers all open activities to be safe. COVID-19 continues to pose a severe risk to residents of Santa Clara County, and the Health Officer urges residents to continue taking precautions, including staying home when possible, minimizing interaction with people outside one’s household, maintaining social distance, wearing face coverings, and moving as many activities outdoors as possible. Individuals over age 50 and those with serious underlying medical conditions are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Indoor dining and indoor gatherings are particularly high risk activities.

Below are key changes that will occur when the Revised Risk Reduction Order takes effect:

Consistency with Orange Tier:  Unless otherwise specified in the County’s Revised Order or Mandatory Directives, businesses are allowed to open to the extent allowed under the State’s Orange Tier.

Gatherings:  The Order strongly discourages gatherings, especially indoor gatherings, because convening with other households for long periods poses a particularly high risk of COVID-19 transmission. The Order does, however, allow both outdoor gatherings (up to 200 people) and indoor gatherings (up to 25% of capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer). The rules for gatherings (including theaters) are in the Health Officer’s revised Mandatory Directive for Gatherings.

Indoor Dining:  Indoor dining will be allowed, subject to various safety requirements. However, because indoor dining is a high-risk activity, the Health Officer particularly discourages persons at high risk for serious illness if they contract COVID-19, or those who have frequent contact with persons at high risk, from partaking in indoor dining. Under the revised order, restaurants may open for indoor services up to 25% of capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. The new rules for indoor and outdoor dining will be set forth in a forthcoming Mandatory Directive for Dining.

Modification of Directives:  In order to better align with the State’s restrictions applicable in counties in the Orange Tier, forthcoming modifications to various other directives will likewise take effect at the time the County moves into the Orange Tier and the Revised Risk Reduction goes into effect.

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:

  1. Telework:  All businesses must continue to require workers to do their jobs from home whenever possible. Workers can go into work only to complete the job duties they can’t complete from home.
  2. Social Distancing Protocol requirements:  All businesses must complete and submit a Social Distancing Protocol for each of their facilities on the County’s website at Prior Social Distancing Protocols must be updated within 14 days of when the Revised Order takes effect using a revised template for the Social Distancing Protocol that will be made available soon.
  3. Positive case reporting:  All businesses (and governmental entities) are legally required to report to the Public Health Department within 4 hours if they learn that any of their workers are confirmed to be positive for COVID-19. They must also ensure workers alert them if they test positive.


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Last updated: 10/22/2020 12:14 PM