Places of worship and retail stores can reopen June 1 in updated shelter-in-place order issued May 29

by Contributed Content on May 30, 2020

San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow issued an updated shelter-in-place order outlining restrictions and conditions for retail stores to reopen and places of worship to provide in-person services.

The revised order is effective at 12:01 a.m., Monday, June 1, 2020, and further aligns the County with the statewide Resilience Roadmap. The revised order also removes beach access and activity restrictions. County beaches may now operate normally, as long as beachgoers adhere to social distancing and face covering guidelines.

This gradual and measured resumption of activity is designed to manage the overall volume, duration and intensity of person-to-person contact to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases in San Mateo County and neighboring counties. As of Friday, May 29, 2020, Menlo Park had 80 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 63 cases the week before. Total cases in San Mateo County reached 2,104 as of May 29, 2020.

The health officer worked diligently to model the revised order off existing statewide guidelines and provides detailed safety protocols in Appendix C-1 of the order. Places of worship and other businesses now allowed to operate must draw up safety plans, as required by the State of California.

“We appreciate the tough decisions and sacrifices that have been made over the past 10 weeks.” said Menlo Park Mayor Cecilia Taylor. “I trust the health officer’s expertise and thoughtful instructions will allow us to safely reopen more of our community”

Places of worship

  • Places of worship must encourage vulnerable staff and congregants (those above age 50 or with chronic health conditions) to work from home or participate virtually.
  • Attendance at religious services and cultural ceremonies is limited to a maximum of 25 percent of building capacity or 100 individuals, whichever is lower.
  • Eating and drinking inside the facility is prohibited, as are after-services gatherings.
  • Children must remain in the care of those in their household or living unit and not interact with children of other parties.
  • Activities and services for children (such as shared play areas) must be discontinued if social distancing of at least six feet cannot be maintained.
  • Places of worship must mark six-foot increments at a minimum to establish where individuals should stand, and aisles should be designated as one-way to support social distancing.

Note: Many local churches are choosing to continue virtual services.

Retail businesses

  • Retail stores must provide curbside or outside pick-up and delivery options, if feasible.
  • Those providing in-store shopping must, in the required health and safety plan, identify the number of shoppers that can be accommodated in a way that allows shoppers and employees to maintain social distancing.
  • Stores must also implement measures to enforce that limit.

While the order is intended to align San Mateo County with state guidelines, there are additional local county requirements for how business is performed. San Mateo County’s order continues to require development, implementation, and posting of a social distancing protocol. The local order also continues to require that everyone who can work from home be assigned to work from home. The revised health order is available online

“These modifications seek to increase the immunity of the population slowly and methodically, while minimizing death. We are trying to keep equity in mind and minimizing economic damage, while not overloading the health care system,” said Dr. Morrow.

“The virus continues to circulate in our community, and the increase in interactions among people that these modifications allow is likely to spread the virus at a higher rate. The risk of exposure to COVID-19 looms large for all of us. The public and open businesses need to fully do their part to minimize transmission of the virus.”

InMenlo file photo (c) 2015

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