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Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding New Order Directing Individuals to Shelter at Home

Updated March 27, 2020

The order effective as of March 17, 2020 limits activity, travel, and business functions to only the most essential needs. The guidance comes after substantial input from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and best practices from other health officials around the world. This order is in effect until April 7.

Table of Contents

Note: These FAQs are updated often. Please check back for updates and clarifications.


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The Governor’s March 19, 2020 Executive Order directing all Californians to stay home except for essential needs complements the Santa Clara County Public Health Officer’s existing order directing all residents to shelter at home, issued on March 16, 2020. The Governor’s action reinforces the importance of our local order, which remains in effect and will continue to be implemented.

Following the direction and orders of public health leaders to stay home except when necessary is vitally important to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable community members. The County urges all residents to do their part by following both the County and the State’s orders to stay home except when necessary, and following other guidance from our Public Health Department.

The County will continue to provide guidance to the community about the implementation of the local order. Any questions regarding the Governor’s Order should be directed to the California Department of Public Health.

Additional information about COVID-19 in Santa Clara County is available at

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What does this Order do?

This Order requires that most people stay home starting as soon as possible, but no later than 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, unless they are engaged in certain “Essential Activities” which are discussed more below.  For most people, this means you and those you live with should remain at home. You are allowed to leave your home for specified reasons to make sure you have the necessities of life (discussed more below) such as getting food and medical supplies.  You are also allowed to go outside to take care of a pet or for exercise so long as you do not congregate in a group and maintain at least six feet of distance between you and other people.  If you are sick you should self-isolate, including, to the extent you can, from others you live with (more on that below).

When does the Order go into effect?

The Order went into effect at 12:01 am on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

How long does the Order last?

The Order is currently set to last for three weeks – until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. The County Health Officer may choose to shorten or extend the time period.  How long the restrictions take place will depend on what the County Health Officer decides is necessary to protect public health.

Can the Order be changed?

Yes.  The Health Officer may make changes to the Order as more information emerges about the public health situation and issue new orders and directive as conditions warrant.  Check the County website at regularly for updates.  The County is working with the media to share important updates and information.

Where is the Order in effect?

This Order (or a similar order) is in effect across the six most populous counties of the Bay Area, including in Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties.

Who issued the Order?

This Order was issued by Health Officers of Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties and the City of Berkeley.  Those health professionals have the authority under state law to issue Orders to protect the health and welfare of everyone in their jurisdictions.

Is this mandatory or is it just guidance?

Yes, it’s mandatory.  This Order is a legal Order issued under the authority of California law.  You are required to comply, and it is a crime (a misdemeanor) not to follow the Order.

I run an Essential Business, as defined by the Order.  Do I need to get an official letter of authorization from the County to operate?

No.  If your business is in the list of Essential Businesses provided in the Order, then you may operate it.  You do not need to obtain any specific authorization from the County to do so.

I work for an Essential Business, as defined by the Order.  Do I need to have a letter from my employer or other documentation to travel?

No.  You do not need to carry official documentation demonstrating that you are exempt under the Order.  But be prepared to explain if requested by law enforcement why your travel is authorized under the Order.


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What does it mean to “shelter in place?”

The term “shelter in place” means to stay in your home and not leave unless necessary for one of the exceptions listed in the Order (discussed more below).

I heard that there is a statewide shelter in place order. Do I still need to comply with Santa Clara County’s Order? 

Yes. In addition to the statewide order, the County Health Officer’s March 16, 2020 Order remains in effect. All residents must comply with the restrictions in both the County and State Orders. If the restrictions in the two orders are different, you must comply with the stricter of the two orders.

What is the difference between “sheltering in place” and “social distancing”?

Sheltering in place is a more rigorous form of social distancing.

Sheltering in place means you:

  • Must stay at home
  • Can only leave your home for “essential activities,” to work for an “essential business,” or for “essential travel,” which are defined in the Order (see FAQs for details)
  • Cannot host or attend any gatherings

You should also maintain 6 foot distance from other people as much as possible, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time (or use hand sanitizer), frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces, and stay home if you are sick. 

Can I leave home to visit friends or family members if there is no urgent need or I am not performing an essential activity?

No.  For your safety as well as their safety, we need to help each other fight the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home.

Can I still get my mail and deliveries?

Yes.  You will still be able to get mail and other deliveries at your home.

Can I still order the things I need online and have them delivered to my residence?

Yes.  Businesses that deliver goods or services directly to residences are “essential businesses” that may continue to operate.

Can I go out to do laundry or have my laundry done?

Yes.  Maintain social distancing.

Can I get my prescriptions or other health care needs?  Can I leave home to go to the pharmacy to get my prescription filled?

Yes.  Drug stores and other medical supply stores are allowed to operate.  When possible you should have prescription medicines and health care supplies delivered to your home.

I’m a medical provider – am I allowed to remain open for non-essential services? 

Yes, if you are a medical provider your office is encouraged to remain open. Under the Order, all medical services, including routine and preventive care, are considered essential. This includes, but is not limited to, mental health services, immunizations, well-woman exams, dental cleanings, allergy shots, eye exams, physical therapy, and surgeries. Preventive care should not be deferred. Many visits involve exams or procedures that must be done in person, but practitioners are encouraged to conduct appointments remotely via phone or telemedicine when it is appropriate and feasible to do so. 

Can I continue to use reflexology, massage therapy, chiropractic, or similar services?

You may continue to use these services if your healthcare provider has determined that they are medically necessary for you.

Can I still go to my Mental Health appointments? 

Yes, mental health appointments can continue. Patients should consult with their practitioners to determine whether it is appropriate and feasible to conduct individual mental health appointments remotely. 

Can I still go to my substance abuse treatment groups (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous) or other group counseling sessions?   

All participants in group counseling services must attend meetings remotely if they are equipped to do so. Groups should make accommodations for remote support to the maximum extent feasible. If remote participation is not feasible or advisable under the circumstances, participation may occur in person provided that there is compliance with the social distancing requirements set forth in the Order, including maintaining at least 6 foot distance between individuals and capping group size to reduce in-person interactions. 

What mental health resources are available for people experiencing distress?   

The following resources are available to help people who may be experiencing distress or heightened anxiety right now:  

  • 24/7 Behavioral Health Services Department Call Center: (800) 704-0900  
  • Crisis Text Line: Text RENEW to 741741  
  • Suicide and Crisis Hotline 24/7: (855) 278-4204 
  • If you are experiencing an emergency please call 911 immediately. 

Should cafeterias in hospitals be closed? 

No. Hospital cafeterias fall within the specific exemption for healthcare facilities and may remain open. Cafeterias must be structured to ensure six-foot minimum distancing between non-related individuals picking up food from or eating in the facility. Cafeterias should increase cleaning and sanitization to minimize risk of exposure and follow other Social Distancing Requirements specified in the Order to the maximum extent feasible.  Cafeterias in all other facilities must follow the requirements in the Order – specifically, food can be carried out or delivered, but cannot be eaten at the cafeteria. 

What if I need to get healthcare from my medical provider?

You can still get your health needs addressed.  Contact your health care provider to see if they are providing regular services.  Some services, especially elective procedures, may be postponed or canceled.  If you are feeling sick, please first call your doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center.  Do not go to the emergency room of a hospital unless you are having an actual emergency.

Should I stock up on food, necessities like toilet paper, and on medicines?

No.  You will continue to be able to purchase these items.  Stores selling necessary items like grocery stores, pharmacies, and hardware stores will remain open.  Please continue to buy normal quantities of these items on the same schedule you normally follow.   This will ensure that there is enough for everyone.

What should I do if I’m sick?  If I or a family member need immediate medical attention, can I leave home to go to the doctor or hospital?

If you are feeling sick, first call your doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center before going to the hospital.  Do not go to the emergency room of a hospital unless you are having an actual emergency.  But you can and should seek medical advice if you or a family member is sick.  If it is not an emergency, please contact your primary care provider to determine next steps.  Also, you can check online resources to help you assess symptoms if you are worried about whether you or a loved one has COVID-19.   You should check for more information.  Call 911 or go to an emergency room if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Can I leave home to care for my elderly parents or friends who require assistance to care for themselves?  Or a friend or family member who has disabilities?

Yes.  Be extremely cautious when providing care to vulnerable people and ensure that you protect them and yourself by following social distancing guidelines such as washing hands before and after, using hand sanitizer, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance when possible, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue. 

Can I visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility?

You may visit a hospital or other healthcare facility only for the purpose of obtaining health care services and supplies.  Non-essential visitations are barred.  Do not visit a nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or residential care facility other than for the purpose of securing care.  People over 60 years of age are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

What if I can’t get out of the home?  How can I get supplies and food?

Please contact friends, family, or others you know who can provide support.  They are allowed to pick up any of your needs.  You can also order food and other supplies, and have them delivered to your home. If you think you might be eligible for meals on wheels, call 408-350-3246 to start the eligibility intake process.

Can I leave home to go to my church, synagogue, or mosque?

No.  For your safety as well as the safety of your fellow worshippers, we need to help each other fight the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home.  Places of worship may offer remote access to services, such as by emails, video streaming, or teleconference.

The Order prohibits non-essential travel on foot or bike -- does that mean that I can’t go on a walk or take a bike ride?

No.  The Order allows you to go outside for exercise so long as you maintain social distancing (more than 6 feet from persons who are not part of your household).  This includes activities like walks or hikes or bike rides or going to a park. 

Can I leave home to exercise?

If you will be outdoors and not in close contact with other people, yes.  Otherwise, no.  Fitness centers, exercise gyms, recreational centers, golf courses, and public pools are not allowed to operate. 

Can golf courses remain open?


I become anxious when cooped up in my house.  Am I allowed to go to a park or on a hike?  Can I travel to a County park or open space?

Yes.  Spending time outside improves mood and well-being, and is particularly beneficial to children.  You can go for walks, go to the park, and engage in other similar activities, but you should maintain social distance (more than six feet away from persons who are not part of your household) to avoid spread of the virus.

Can I go shopping for things other than food/groceries?

Yes.  You can shop for anything that is related to health care, hardware supplies, supplies needed to telecommute, and supplies essential to safety and sanitation.  But you should minimize unnecessary trips.

Can I go to a bar/nightclub/theater?

No.  Entertainment venues are not allowed to operate.

Can I go to a restaurant, café, coffee or tea shop, ice cream shop, or other foodservice location?

Yes, but only to pick up food.  You cannot dine, eat, or drink in or around the facility. 

Can I walk my dog/pet?

Yes.  Be sure that you distance yourself at least six feet from others who are not part of your household.

 Can I go to a vet or pet hospital if my pet is sick?

Yes.  Please call first to determine if the vet has any restrictions in place.

I don’t cook—how can I purchase meals?

Restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and similar establishments are encouraged to remain open to supply meals to the public via delivery and carryout.  You can also purchase prepared foods at grocery stores, supermarkets, certified farmers’ markets, convenience stores, and other such food retailers.

How can I access free or reduced price meals for myself or my family?

Schools, soup kitchens, food banks, and other entities that provide free or reduced priced food or meals to the public are encouraged to continue providing these services.  You must pick up and take away the food or have it brought to you.  Do not eat on the premises.

Can I take my kids to the park and can we use playgrounds?

The Order allows you to engage in outdoor activities, provided that you maintain adequate social distancing.  While we encourage use of parks, we strongly discourage the use of playgrounds because they include high-touch surfaces, and because it is typically not possible to maintain social distancing at playgrounds.

Can I carry out a court-ordered visit with my kids?

Yes.  The Order exempts travel by court order or law enforcement.

Can and should I donate blood if I am healthy?

Yes, blood banks, blood donation centers, and blood drives are exempt healthcare operations.  If you are healthy and do not have COVID-19 symptoms, you are encouraged to donate.  The need for adequate blood donations from health people is critical. 

Can I still access necessary items in my self-storage unit? 

Self-storage facilities are not essential businesses but that they can maintain minimum business operations and allow people to access their units to the extent they are accessing them for medical or related needs.

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Will all business offices and stores be required to close?

No.  “Essential businesses” may keep their facilities open (and are encouraged to keep them open) to continue providing essential services and products to the public.  Employees may leave home to go to these jobs. 

Non-essential businesses may keep facilities open only to maintain minimum basic operations, such as maintaining the value of an inventory, keeping the site secure, or ensuring that employees are able to work remotely.  The Order does not prohibit any employees from working from home.

 What are “Essential Businesses”?

 The Order provides the following list of “Essential Businesses”:

  1. Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure;
  2. Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
  3. Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
  4. Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
  5. Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
  6. Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;
  7. Banks and related financial institutions;
  8. Hardware stores;
  9. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses;
  10. Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
  11. Educational institutions—including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
  12. Laundromats, drycleaners, and laundry service providers;
  13. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take-away basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not allow the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site;
  14. Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;
  15. Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
  16. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;
  17. Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;
  18. Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
  19. Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
  20. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities;
  21. Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in this Order to work as allowed. To the extent possible, childcare facilities must operate under the following mandatory conditions:
    1. Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer (“stable” means that the same 12 or fewer children are in the same group each day).
    2. Children shall not change from one group to another.
    3. If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room. Groups shall not mix with each other.
    4. Childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children.

What if my business is not considered an Essential Business?  Does this Order require that I shut down my business facility?

You and your employees are allowed to perform “Minimum Basic Operations” at your work place, so long as employees maintain a distance of six feet from one another to the greatest extent feasible.  Minimum Basic Operations include maintaining the value of inventory, ensuring security, and ensuring that employees can work remotely.  Other than to maintain “Minimum Basic Operations,” employees can only work remotely from their residences.

Does this Order require that schools shut down?

This Order requires that all schools stop holding classes at physical locations within the County.  However, schools may provide distance learning to their students.  Employees of schools may go to work for the purpose of providing distance learning to their students.  Schools can also continue to offer students free and reduced-price lunches for takeaway or delivery, which many schools are doing.

I work for Apple, Google, or another large technology company that provides products and services that the public needs to access critical services.  Is my company being completely shut down?

No.  However, most employees of such companies will need to work from home.  Anyone who must work onsite to maintain “Essential Infrastructure” for the community or to maintain “Minimum Basic Operations” as described in the Order may continue to work in the workplace so long as they are maintaining social distancing.

Can my business expand a data center to ensure that we are able to maintain existing service levels during a period of increased demand? Yes, this is permissible as construction to maintain the operation of essential infrastructure. 

Will this order prevent companies working on vaccines and testing for COVID-19 from continuing to do that work?

No.  The Order exempts any business that is performing work related to the delivery of health care.

I am in the business of manufacturing food that I supply to grocery stores and other food retailers.  Am I required to shut down? 

No.  All suppliers of essential businesses are allowed (and encouraged) to continue operating.  This includes businesses that supply food goods and prepared meals to grocery stores and other food retailers.

Does the Order require that businesses stop work that is necessary to our health care system?

No.  The Order exempts any business that is performing work related to the delivery of health care.

Can my company continue construction on a health care facility?

Yes, the Order exempts any business that is performing work related to the delivery of health care.

Can my company tend to its labs under this Order?

You and your employees are allowed to perform “Minimum Basic Operations” on site at your work place, so long as employees maintain a distance of six feet from one another to the greatest extent feasible.  If tending to the company’s labs is necessary to maintaining the value of inventory, the Order allows for this work to continue.  Other than that, your lab may only operate if it performs work exempted in the Order.

My business principally manufactures, supplies, or repairs cell phones. Can it operate?

Yes.  If your business is primarily engaged in supply or repair of cell phones or other telecommunications devices, then it is essential and may continue to operate under the Order.

Can landscaping services continue? 

Landscaping services may continue only if they are necessary to protect the safety, sanitation, or operation of essential businesses, such as weed abatement and other fire prevention, tree trimming to prevent a dangerous condition, or clearance of irrigation infrastructure.  Landscaping for cosmetic purposes may not continue.  Landscapers performing services under contract with governmental agencies should consult the relevant agency to determine whether their services are deemed essential. 

Are non-profit organizations allowed to continue operating?

If they provide essential services as described in the Order, then yes they can and should continue providing those services.  This would include non-profits operating food pantries, providing housing for homeless residents, and providing other critical services.

What if some of the work my business does at its facility is essential and some is non-essential?

Your business can continue to operate its facility to carry out its essential business functions. You must maximize remote work and comply with social distancing requirements at the facility. The facility cannot continue to carry out non-essential business functions.

I operate a “big box store” that sells some clothing in addition to groceries, electronics, and hardware.  Do I need to shut down the part of my store that sells non-essential supplies?

No.  You may keep your entire store open if it primarily sells essential goods and supplies like food and telecommunication supplies.

What if I have a cafeteria at my worksite.  Can it continue to operate to serve workers who are carrying out work exempted in the Order?

The Cafeteria can operate like other food facilities.  It can serve food to the remaining employees, so long as the employees take the food away and do not eat it in the cafeteria.  The cafeteria should follow the social distancing requirements in the Order. 

Is the local government shutting down?

No, essential government functions will continue, including first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, and law enforcement.  Other government functions or offices may be subject to reduced schedules or may be closed as part of the effort to fight the spread of COVID-19.

I work for the government—Can I continue to go to work?

Government employees can continue to go to work if they are designated as essential employees by their employer.  Each government entity is responsible for determining which of its workers are essential workers.

What do I do if my employer requires me to go to work?

Many businesses are not allowed to operate under this Order.  Essential Businesses, as defined in the Order, are allowed (and encouraged) to continue operating.  If your work is not an Essential Business, you are not allowed to go to work and your employer is not alllowed to require you to attend except to sustain Minimum Basic Operations, as that term is defined in the Order.  You may work from home if your work allows.

I work in a hospital or medical clinic, but I’m not sure I’m essential.  Should I continue to work?  What if I’m over 60?

ALL employees of hospitals, clinics, and other organizations that provide healthcare, provide services to healthcare organizations, provide needed supplies to healthcare organizations, or otherwise maintain healthcare operations of all kinds may continue working.

Both the County’s Order and the Governor’s recent guidance allows essential workers over 60 to continue working, even though others in that age group are being directed to stay home.

What do I do about my kids?  I have to work.

If you work for an Essential Business, as described in the Order, you can and should continue to work.  Certain employers, schools, and community organizations will be providing childcare for employees of essential businesses.  You may also employ a nanny or babysitter to provide home-based care for your kids.

Can bike repair shops continue to operate?

Yes, bike repair shops are treated as an essential business (the same as auto repair shops) because they are necessary to facilitate essential travel.

Can my company continue to provide janitorial services?

Yes, janitorial services are allowedas necessary to health and sanitation.

Can grocery stores, farmers markets, and other food retailers remain open?

Yes.  Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and similar food retail establishments are encouraged to remain open to provide food and pet supplies to the public.  When visiting these establishments, please help retailers maintain at least six feet minimum distance between patrons, including by providing ample space while shopping and waiting in line.

If my child’s school is providing food or meals, can I leave home to go to the school to pick up the food or meals?


I operate a food facility-- what practices should I follow to keep my patrons safe?

Follow the best practices for allowable food facility operations included in the Department of Environmental Health’s “COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Measures for Food Facilities”: 

Notices to Food Facilities [PDF]

Read the Department of Environmental Health’s Letter advising on the effects of the Order on food facilities: 

Letter to Food Facilities​ [PDF]

Visit the Department of Environment Health>Novel Coronavirus>Informational Links for COVID-19​ for the latest practices.

Consult the Public Health Department’s website for additional up to date information.

Can warehouses and distribution centers that supply businesses that ship and deliver stay open?


I work for an essential infrastructure organization—can I leave home to go to work?

Yes.  You can go to work to maintain and operate essential infrastructure, including public works construction, construction of housing (in particular affordable housing or housing for individuals experiencing homelessness), airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services).

I run a construction company that builds affordable and market rate housing. Can we continue to build new units? 

Yes. Creation of new housing units, including both market rate and affordable housing units, is essential. The Order allows construction projects to proceed and new ones to begin if they contribute new residential housing stock to meet the County’s critical need for additional housing supply. 

I am midway through a remodel. Can my construction project continue? 

Yes. Residential renovation projects of any kind that are currently underway may continue if necessary to a safe, sanitary, and functional home. Likewise, residential remodeling projects that are partly completed may continue if delaying completion would pose a safety, security, or sanitation risk to residents or impact the habitability of the residence. 

I have a construction project that will sustain damage if I do not continue work on it. Can I complete the project if it is not related to provision of healthcare, housing, or other essential infrastructure?

The Order allows for minimum basic operations at non-essential construction sites. You may send employees to the construction site to secure the site and to ensure that it does not sustain damage. You may only continue construction on the project to the extent it is necessary to prevent damage to the project, e.g. completing a roof or ensuring that there is proper drainage after grading has been completed.

I have a contractor scheduled to begin a remodel next week. Can I go ahead with this project? 

You must defer your remodel or renovation project unless it is necessary to restore your home to a safe, sanitary, and habitable space. 

Is general commercial construction allowed? 

Unless your construction project is a health care facility, it is only allowed if it is necessary to the operation or maintenance of “essential infrastructure,” as that term is defined in the Order.

What if I want to go to work at a physical location in the County and I’m not sick?

Unless your work is exempted in the Order, you cannot go to work at a physical location in the County.  You may work from home for any business if your employer allows it.

Can I operate a business that sells things that can be delivered to people’s homes? Can I shift more of my business to a delivery model?

Deliveries can continue to be sent to people’s homes, and you may adjust your business model accordingly while this Order is in place.

My business provides critical services and products for the federal government that we are required to provide on a time-certain basis--can we continue to manufacture these products or perform these services?

Employees and contractors of any governmental entity may continue to provide the services and products if the governmental entity determines that they are necessary to carry out an essential governmental function. 

I work in a cemetery-- can I go to work?

Yes, cemeteries are essential infrastructure.

Are daycare facilities allowed to operate?

Daycare facilities may operate, but only if they comply with the mandatory conditions set forth below and only to provide daycare to the children of employees who are exempted under the Order.  This includes employees of essential businesses, employees who are providing for minimum basic operations of non-essential businesses, and governmental employees providing essential governmental functions.

To operate, daycare facilities must comply with the following mandatory conditions:

  • Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer children (meaning that the same 12 or fewer children are in the same group each day);
  • Children cannot change from one group to another;
  • If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group must be in a separate room. Groups cannot mix with each other.
  • Childcare provided must remain solely with one group of children. They cannot rotate between groups.

Can home service workers continue to provide their services? 

Home service workers may provide services to residences if essential to health, safety, sanitation, or the necessary operation of the residence. Generally, this will mean that plumbing, maintenance (to, for example, fix an interior or exterior water leak), pest control, or similar services necessary to maintain a safe and sanitary household are permissible. Purely cosmetic and other non-essential home services should be deferred to minimize risk of transmission. Home based childcare is also allowed under the Order. 

If I operate a non-essential business with a retail storefront, am I allowed to re-configure my business to deliver products to people’s homes? 


I operate a store that primarily sells non-essential goods, but that also sells a small fraction of essential goods like food, or products that allow people to work from home. Can I continue to sell products to customers at my storefront?

No. Your store may deliver items directly to customers’ residences.  Other than that, you may only maintain minimum basic operations, such as security and safeguarding of your inventory. 

I am a nanny. Will I get in trouble if I go to work?

The Order allows nannies and babysitters caring for a child in the child’s own home to continue working.

Can notaries public continue to operate? 


Can title insurance companies continue to operate? 


Are cannabis dispensers and growers allowed to operate?

Medical dispensaries can dispense under health care industry exemptions. Suppliers to medical dispensaries and licensed medical growers can operate as well.  Non-medical cultivation, supply, and dispensing are prohibited, with the exception of deliveries directly to residences. 

Can recreational cannabis be purchased on a “take-out” basis? 


Can I have cannabis delivered to my home? 

Yes.  The Order allows businesses to deliver products to people’s residences. 

Can auto dealerships sell cars online and deliver them to people’s homes? 

Yes.  The Order allows businesses to deliver products to people’s residences. 

My retail shop is not exempt -- can we deliver existing stock to people’s homes? 

Yes.  The Order allows businesses to deliver products to people’s residences. 

Can gun shops selling firearms and ammunition continue to keep their storefronts open?

No. Gun shops are not essential businesses under the Order. The Order allows delivery of inventory directly to customers at their residences in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, but gun shops may not make sales from their storefronts.

Can my pool maintenance company continue to operate?

Yes, so long as the service is necessary to maintain safety and sanitation. Allowable operations include routine maintenance work like cleaning, chemical balancing and adjustments, and filtration (necessary to, for instance, prevent pool algae from blooming) and safety-oriented repairs.

Are funeral home providers and mortuaries allowed to continue operating?

Yes, funeral home providers and mortuaries may continue operating to the extent necessary to preserve health, safety, and sanitation. This means that any employee necessary for the transport, preparation and/or processing of a body may continue to report to these facilities to conduct their work.

Can real estate agents show residences in person?

No. Real estate agents may only show homes to potential residents via video or livestream.

Can quarries continue to operate under the Order?

Quarries can continue to operate in order to supply materials necessary for the operation and maintenance of Essential Infrastructure, including housing and Public Works construction, and healthcare operations. All quarries must comply with social distancing requirements set forth in the Order to the greatest extent feasible.


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Can I get a ride in my favorite ride share/on demand service or a taxi?

Yes, but these services can only be used for “essential activities,” to get to and from work to operate “essential businesses,” or to provide “essential governmental functions,” which are defined in the Order.  Keep in mind that being in close quarters in a vehicle that has been shared with many others should be avoided if possible.   

Can I take public transport (bus, subway, train)?

Yes, but public transit can only be used to perform “essential activities,” to get to and from work to operate “essential businesses,” or to maintain “essential governmental functions.”  When using public transport, you should maintain at least 6 feet distance from one another (2 or 3 steps away), including if you are on the bus or on trains. 

Am I allowed to leave the areas covered by this Order to travel to/from a job outside the Bay Area?  Does the Order allow me to leave the County?

Yes, but only to perform “essential activities,” operate “essential businesses,” or to maintain “essential governmental functions,” as those terms are defined in the Order.  Otherwise, the answer is no because that puts you and others in the community at risk.

I am currently on vacation outside the County—Does the Order allow me to return home?


If I’m outside the county travelling for vacation or business, am I allowed to come home?

The Order allows you to return home.

I’m visiting and staying in a hotel, with family/friends, or in a short-term rental.  What should I do? Can I go home?

Yes, you can leave the County for the purpose of returning home.             

If I am currently outside the County, can I travel into the County?

You are subject to the same restrictions for travel as individuals currently in the County.  You may travel into the County to perform “essential activities,” work to operate “essential businesses,” or maintain “essential governmental functions” as those terms are defined in the Order.


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What does yesterday’s order mean for Santa Clara County’s homeless pop​ulation?

According to yesterday’s legal order, businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals are considered essential businesses. Individuals experiencing homelessness are strongly urged to obtain shelter. In addition, governmental and other entities are strongly urged to make such shelter available as soon as possible and to the maximum extent practicable. They are also urged to utilize social distancing requirements in their operation.

What is Santa Clara County doing to protect the homeless population from COVID-19?

We know that the spread of the COVID-19 could be particularly dangerous for those experiencing homelessness. Individuals without stable housing not only face greater difficulty taking preventative actions, but they are generally already in poorer health than other Santa Clara County residents. Over the last few days Santa Clara County has disseminated guidance, in multiple languages when possible, to sheltered and unsheltered persons and to agencies operating temporary shelters, outreach programs, day centers, supportive housing program sites, and affordable housing developments. The City of San Jose has delivered handwashing stations, portable toilets, clean water and arranged for refuse pickup at 14 locations with relatively large groups of unsheltered persons. We are also developing options and plans for other cities in Santa Clara County.

In addition, we’ve updated protocols for and have supplied outreach and mobile healthcare teams to help ensure unsheltered individuals are properly connected to available resources, information, and medical assistance, when necessary. The County is in the process of organizing volunteers to assist with this effort. The County’s $2 billion healthcare system is also available to help anyone in need, whether the individual is uninsured, homeless, or facing other economic challenges.

The County is working to expand temporary shelter capacity to increase social distancing and establishing protocols to better separate at-risk individuals staying at existing shelters. We’re also working to provide basic needs at shelters, such as hygiene kits, medical supplies, and washers and dryers. And we are identifying places for those who are homeless or residing in a shelter to isolate when necessary.

We continue to collaborate with Public Health, the Office of Supportive Housing, Valley Health Plan, our partner cities, and other jurisdictions.


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What if I’m in a line and there isn’t six feet between me and others?

You should still try to maintain at least six feet between you and others.  When that isn’t possible for short periods, do your best to keep the duration short.  And be sure when in line you don’t sneeze or cough onto people.  If needed, cough or sneeze into your shirt or into an elbow with clothing on, not into your hand.  

What if my plumbing gets stopped up or there is another problem with necessary equipment at my home?  How will I access those sorts of services?

Call your plumber or building manager. This Order allows service providers like plumbers, electricians, and exterminators to keep working and providing their services to the public. To obtain supplies for a DIY solution, you can also visit your hardware store, which is allowed to stay open under this Order.

What do I do about my loved one who needs care from me?

You are allowed to provide care or to help out with getting supplies for loved ones, even if they do not live in your household.  But do not provide care or pick up supplies if you are sick and someone else can help them.  If you are sick, please try to self-isolate or take other steps not to expose anyone else to your illness.

Are funerals allowed? 

Funerals may proceed with the minimum number of attendees present.  Not more than 15 people may attend a funeral.  Funerals must be conducted in strict compliance with the social distancing requirements set forth in the Order. 

Can residents of group living facilities like senior living facilities and shelters eat their meals in dining halls or cafeterias? 

If facilities include separate units or rooms that allow for residents to eat their meals in those units or rooms, then food must be served on a take-away basis. If food consumption in individual units or rooms is not feasible or advisable, then residents may eat their meals in dining halls or cafeterias.  Facilities should adhere to the social distancing requirements to the maximum extent feasible, including when residents are waiting in line for their food. 

What happens if I don’t comply with this Order?

This is a legally enforceable order issued under California law. It is a crime to violate this Order, and you may be punished by a fine or imprisonment for doing so.

Why is this Order in place?

This Order is in place to address the ongoing spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the Bay Area.  At this point in the global pandemic, the virus has a foothold in all the jurisdictions that issued this Order.  There is substantial community transmission of the virus, which is easily spread between people.  One big challenge in controlling the transmission of the virus is that many people who have it don’t have symptoms or have mild symptoms.  But they can easily spread the virus even if they don’t feel ill.  And the virus lasts a long time on many surfaces (from hours to days).

Unfortunately, this virus can cause severe symptoms in some people and can also be fatal.  Some who get the virus, especially those over 60 years old, those who have weak immune systems, and those with various medical conditions (see below for a full list), can end up with serious complications that include fever, pneumonia, and even in some instances death.  There is no approved treatment or cure for COVID-19.  That means that people who get very sick need medical intervention such as oxygen or help breathing.

Because the virus spreads so easily, without dramatic intervention like this Order, it would result in so many people needing medical attention in a hospital setting that our hospitals will be overwhelmed.  We may not have enough beds or equipment to adequately care for the most seriously ill.  And our health care workers and other first responders are also at risk, and if they get sick there are fewer people to provide health care and first response services.  For those reasons, it is critical that we now do everything in our power to slow down the spread of the virus.  Doing so will help to “flatten the curve” to slow down the spread of the virus and help our health care system not be overwhelmed.  If this succeeds, it means that there will be health care available for those who get sick with COVID-19 or who need emergency medical care for accidents, heart attacks, strokes, and other serious medical conditions.

We all have to do our part now to protect everyone in the community.  The best way to do that is to “socially isolate” yourself at home to avoid further spread of the virus.

Why now?

This Order is being issued now because the infection rates in the six most populous counties of the Bay Area suggest that the situation is critical and will worsen quickly, especially without rigorous intervention.  Some jurisdictions believe their health care systems are overwhelmed or may start becoming overwhelmed in the next week.  For those jurisdictions, the spread has to be slowed to the maximum extent possible.  The sooner these extreme measures are taken, the more effective they are because of how the virus spreads.

What if I need to move from one residence to another?

If possible, any move from one residence to another should be deferred until the Order has been lifted. If it is not possible for you to defer the move or if there is a safety or sanitation issue that requires a move, the Order allows you to move residences. Moving companies may assist a person or family in making a move between residences under these circumstances.

What if I need to move my business from one facility to another?

Any move from one office or commercial location to another should be deferred until the Order has been lifted, and moves by non-essential businesses must be deferred. The Order allows essential businesses only to move from one facility to another if the move is necessary to continue providing essential goods or services or for safety or sanitation reasons. Moving companies may assist an essential business in making a move to a new location under these circumstances.

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Last updated: 3/27/2020 5:47 PM