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Bay Area Counties Take First Careful Step Toward Reopening

On April 29, 2020, the health officers of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, as well as the City of Berkeley, issued a new shelter-in-place order that will relax some of the shelter-in-place restrictions that have been in place since March 16, 2020.  Below are the changes that will start on May 4, 2020.


All construction activities will return to full operation.  Construction that resumes starting May 4 will have to comply with new safety protocols, which can be found here for small construction projects and here for large ones.


Childcare centers, summer camps, and other educational and recreational programs that provide care for children to serve essential workers and anyone else who is allowed to work outside the home. They must keep children in stable groups of 12 or less and comply with several other safety protocols.

The State of California’s Shelter Order includes restrictions on childcare that are more extensive than the new order from the seven Bay Area health officers. The more restrictive of the two orders, in this case the State’s, will take precedence.  California state guidelines still limit childcare to only the children of essential workers, and those stricter state guidelines take precedent over the augmented local restrictions.

Outdoor Businesses and Recreation

Businesses that are primarily outdoors and where social distancing of at least six feet can be maintained between all individuals will be able to open.  Among the businesses this covers are nurseries, landscapers, and agricultural operations.

The modified order also allows recreation facilities that do not encourage gathering, or do not use high-touch equipment, to open for individuals or members of the same household or living unit. This includes places such as golf courses, skate parks, and athletic fields. However, before they can open, they must comply with all social distancing and safety protocols.

Similar to childcare, recreation facilities are also covered by the State Shelter Order and the more restrictive of the two orders takes precedence. As an example, the State currently does not allow golf courses to open, so they cannot open until the State order is eased.

Real Estate Transactions

All real estate transactions and residential moves will also be allowed to resume, though limitations on open houses and in-person home viewings continue.


The health officers also announced the criteria they will be watching to make decisions on further lifting restrictions in the coming weeks and months, which include the following:

  • Whether the number of COVID-19 cases is flattening/decreasing;
  • Whether the number of hospitalizations is flattening/decreasing;
  • Whether all health care workers have access to adequate protective gear;
  • Whether there is adequate testing; and
  • Whether there is the ability to investigate known cases, do contact tracing, and isolate people who have been exposed.

If you have questions about this new order, please contact Ghazaleh Modarresi, Attorney at Berliner Cohen, LLP at or (408) 286-5800.