Contra Costa County and five other Bay Area counties extended a previous stay-at-home order through May 3 and added restrictions on activities in order to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases that could overwhelm hospital capacity.
The new order, which takes effect tonight at midnight, prohibits most residential and commercial construction, and also prohibits the use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas and similar recreational areas. It also bans the use of shared public recreational facilities such as golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, pools and rock walls. Sports requiring people to share equipment, such as a ball, must be limited to people in the same household.
The description, “essential businesses,” has been expanded in the order to include those involved in residential transactions (notaries, title companies, Realtors, etc.), funeral homes and cemeteries, moving companies, rental car companies and rideshare services that specifically enable essential activities. Essential businesses also must scale down operations to essential components only and have a social distancing protocol in place by April 3.
Still described as essential businesses in the order are healthcare facilities, those operating and maintaining essential infrastructure, grocery stores, certified farmers markets, and others selling unprepared food. Farming, livestock and fishing for food cultivation is also essential, along with gas stations, auto and bicycle repair and supply shops, hardware stores, mailing and shipping services and businesses providing shelter and necessary social services to underprivileged individuals.
Childcare facilities may only provide care to children or dependents of individuals working for essential businesses, providing essential governmental functions, or performing minimum basic operations for non-essential businesses, according to the order.
Landscapers and similar service professionals “may only provide services necessary to maintain the sanitation, habitability, or operation of residences or businesses, or for safety reasons,” according to the new guidelines. They may not provide services that are cosmetic or for general upkeep.
The order also restricts people from moving unless it is not possible to wait until the health order expires, or if the move was already planned.
Violating the health order constitutes a public nuisance and “can be enforced by law enforcement and also through civil remedies,” the order states.
“Failure to comply with the requirements is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both,” according to the County. “The County may take appropriate actions to stop businesses from violating the Ordinance, including obtaining a temporary restraining order and pulling an applicable permit or revoking an applicable license.”
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The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the six most populous Bay Area counties increased from 258 to 2,092 between March 15 and March 29, according to health officials. The number of confirmed deaths rose from three to 51 in this same period. As of Tuesday, there had been 222 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three deaths within Contra Costa County.