With shelter in place in effect, Menlo Park focuses on essential services

by Contributed Content on March 17, 2020

Yesterday, San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow and six other Bay Area health officers issued a unified order for residents to stay home and limit activity to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and preserve health care capacity across the region.

The order requires all residents to stay home and limit activity, travel and business functions to only the most essential needs. It is effective today, March 17, 2020, and continues through April 7, 2020, unless modified by the health officer.

It provides clear exceptions to allow access to essential services like medical care, food purchases and other necessary activities. Among businesses deemed essential are food retailers, such as grocery stores and convenience stores; gas stations; banks; and necessary supply and repair businesses. All must adhere to strict social distancing requirements.

The updated order requires those who do leave home for essential activities to comply with social distancing requirements. Businesses, other than essential businesses, shall cease activities other than minimum basic operations. All public and private gatherings of any size (now including religious services) are prohibited, with very few expressly permitted exceptions. All travel, other than essential travel and essential activity defined by the health officer, is prohibited.

The order is very comprehensive and very detailed; read the San Mateo County EOC press release and the county health officer’s full formal order. Residents with questions are encouraged to call 2-1-1, with 24/7 coverage and support for multiple languages.

Santa Clara County has similar order in place.

City facilities remain closed to the public. In response to the latest guidance from the county health officer, City Manager/Emergency Services Director Starla Jerome-Robinson has ordered most employees to stay home through April 7, with few exceptions necessary to ensure public safety and critical support services to maintain minimum basic operations, while adhering to the required strict social distancing.

Continuing and modified services:
– Police patrol will continue, with minimum necessary records and support services
– Police communications/dispatch will continue, with all calls for service being triaged; only call 9-1-1 if you have a life-threatening emergency
– Municipal water service, applicable for Menlo Park Municipal Water customers, continues with minimal staffing to ensure water quality sampling and system reliability
– Public Works field crews remain on standby to respond to emergencies, such as downed trees and water main breaks
– Public Works facilities and fleet staff continue on minimal staffing to support essential functions
– Parks will remain open, but no organized or team activities allowed
– Building inspections only necessary for emergencies and life/safety situations will continue
– Information technology, administrative/financial staffing, as well as public information and City Council support continue with minimal staffing and remote work occurring
City Council and Planning Commission meetings, deemed essential for government operations, will continue with severe modifications and remote participation

Service suspensions:
– All city buildings and facilities remain closed to the public, this now includes playgrounds
– All non-essential meetings, classes, city events and private events
– Parking enforcement, including overnight residential parking and downtown parking enforcement
– Planning and building services
– Revenue collection

For more information and future coronavirus (COVID-19) updates visit menlopark.org/coronavirus and subscribe to “Menlo Park City News” at menlopark.org/notifyme. Menlo Park updates are also shared on the city social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor.

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