News

San Mateo County gives green light to open more businesses and activities

Households may gather in 'social bubbles' of up to 12 people without social distancing

Steve Cervelli cuts Juan Navarro's hair and has been for nearly 40 years at Diane's Salon in Portola Valley in November, before the coronavirus pandemic caused non-essential businesses to close. A new San Mateo County order allows barbershops, salons, gyms and many other businesses to reopen. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Effective immediately, a wide range of San Mateo County businesses and activities, from barbershops to gyms, are allowed to reopen, according to a June 17 announcement from the county.

Group gatherings are now limited to no more than 50 people with social distancing and face coverings, and people from multiple households are allowed to interact in "social bubbles" of 12 or fewer people.

The following types of business and services can now reopen, so long as they follow health and safety plans: dine-in restaurants, hair salons and barber shops, casinos, family entertainment centers, wineries, bars, zoos, museums, gyms, fitness centers, hotels (for tourism and individual travel), card rooms, racetracks, campgrounds and outdoor recreation areas.

In addition, personal service businesses like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors may create safety plans and resume operations starting June 19.

Face coverings are still required inside or in line to enter businesses like grocery stores, laundromats, hospitals, clinics, testing locations, dentists, veterinary care sites and public transit or ride share services. They are recommended but not required for outdoor recreation when one can maintain 6 feet of space from others, but people should have them on hand in case they do have to go near others.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

The new county order also permits people to interact with other households as part of a cohort termed a "social bubble." These groups of 12 or fewer people from different households or living units agree to socialize only with members of that group. The cohort should be maintained for three weeks at a minimum, and individuals should be part of only one bubble at a time. People who are part of the same bubble are advised, but not required, to practice social distancing and wear face coverings. Violations of the order are punishable by fine, imprisonment or both, according to the revised health order.

The county is now caught up to many other communities across the state that are further along in the reopening process. Last week, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the state affirming that it can satisfy certain criteria laid out in the state's plan for reopening, called its "Resilience Roadmap," and asking for permission to reopen businesses. The state granted the request.

"People want to get back to work. That said, it’s up to all of us to continue to wear face coverings and to maintain social distancing so we can continue to reopen both the economy and our social lives in a safe manner," Warren Slocum, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors whose district includes East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks, said in a press statement.

He added that many residents of those communities have had to choose between their physical and economic health during the pandemic.

"This is great news for so many of the thousands of small businesses that are truly the backbone of our local economy, especially in East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks," he said in a written statement.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

The county's request to the state argued that the county is making good progress toward the state's benchmark goals even though it is not meeting all of them.

One of the benchmarks is to have no more than 5% of COVID-19 cases admitted to hospitals, or about 20 per day. The county has exceeded that rate on three of the last 44 days. Hospital surge capacity remains strong, county officials said in their application for permission to reopen, which compares county results in combating the coronavirus to state benchmarks.

Another benchmark is for hospitals and skilled nursing facilities to have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to last 14 days. The county is working to build up its reserves.

The health department works with a coordinator in Redwood City using software to collect requests from health care facilities, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, skilled nursing facilities and others that need medical and health supplies. The coordinator works with the county to keep a list of vendors and make sure they have the supplies needed to fulfill requests. The county's 17 skilled nursing facilities are polled daily to confirm they have enough PPE, according to the application.

One of the state requirements is to have no more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents over a two week period or for the rate of COVID-positive tests to be less than 8% in a one week period.

The county's current rate is 62 cases per 100,000 residents — more than twice the state benchmark. However, it passes the other part of the requirement, for testing. Only about 3.2% of tests in the county were COVID-positive June 3 through 9.

The county is also expanding its staffing for contact tracing. It has already increased the number of full-time people working on contact tracing from eight to 30, and plans to increase that to 75 by July by recruiting from among other county departments. The health department plans to be ready to expand the number of contact tracers to investigate up to 230 cases per day with 115 full-time employees by recruiting.

For much of the time the public health orders have been in effect, COVID-19 testing was not offered unless someone showed symptoms. With the loosening of those restrictions to people who are mild or moderately ill, presymptomatic or asymptomatic, the county has been able to exceed the state's benchmark for the number of daily tests offered by 26%, or about 1,151. During the week of May 31 to June 6, the county averaged 1,456 tests per day.

The county reports it's planning to target high-risk communities by testing all symptomatic and asymptomatic adults and their caregivers in skilled nursing facilities and congregate care settings every two weeks. The county has also been expanding testing services in East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks, Daly City and Half Moon Bay.

As of June 10, about 20% of the positive cases of COVID-19 and 63% of the COVID-19 related deaths in the county have been associated with congregate care facilities.

The county is planning to develop a draft of a COVID-19 containment plan by July 3.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Kate Bradshaw writes for The Almanac, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

San Mateo County gives green light to open more businesses and activities

Households may gather in 'social bubbles' of up to 12 people without social distancing

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 7:21 pm

Effective immediately, a wide range of San Mateo County businesses and activities, from barbershops to gyms, are allowed to reopen, according to a June 17 announcement from the county.

Group gatherings are now limited to no more than 50 people with social distancing and face coverings, and people from multiple households are allowed to interact in "social bubbles" of 12 or fewer people.

The following types of business and services can now reopen, so long as they follow health and safety plans: dine-in restaurants, hair salons and barber shops, casinos, family entertainment centers, wineries, bars, zoos, museums, gyms, fitness centers, hotels (for tourism and individual travel), card rooms, racetracks, campgrounds and outdoor recreation areas.

In addition, personal service businesses like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors may create safety plans and resume operations starting June 19.

Face coverings are still required inside or in line to enter businesses like grocery stores, laundromats, hospitals, clinics, testing locations, dentists, veterinary care sites and public transit or ride share services. They are recommended but not required for outdoor recreation when one can maintain 6 feet of space from others, but people should have them on hand in case they do have to go near others.

The new county order also permits people to interact with other households as part of a cohort termed a "social bubble." These groups of 12 or fewer people from different households or living units agree to socialize only with members of that group. The cohort should be maintained for three weeks at a minimum, and individuals should be part of only one bubble at a time. People who are part of the same bubble are advised, but not required, to practice social distancing and wear face coverings. Violations of the order are punishable by fine, imprisonment or both, according to the revised health order.

The county is now caught up to many other communities across the state that are further along in the reopening process. Last week, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the state affirming that it can satisfy certain criteria laid out in the state's plan for reopening, called its "Resilience Roadmap," and asking for permission to reopen businesses. The state granted the request.

"People want to get back to work. That said, it’s up to all of us to continue to wear face coverings and to maintain social distancing so we can continue to reopen both the economy and our social lives in a safe manner," Warren Slocum, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors whose district includes East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks, said in a press statement.

He added that many residents of those communities have had to choose between their physical and economic health during the pandemic.

"This is great news for so many of the thousands of small businesses that are truly the backbone of our local economy, especially in East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks," he said in a written statement.

The county's request to the state argued that the county is making good progress toward the state's benchmark goals even though it is not meeting all of them.

One of the benchmarks is to have no more than 5% of COVID-19 cases admitted to hospitals, or about 20 per day. The county has exceeded that rate on three of the last 44 days. Hospital surge capacity remains strong, county officials said in their application for permission to reopen, which compares county results in combating the coronavirus to state benchmarks.

Another benchmark is for hospitals and skilled nursing facilities to have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to last 14 days. The county is working to build up its reserves.

The health department works with a coordinator in Redwood City using software to collect requests from health care facilities, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, skilled nursing facilities and others that need medical and health supplies. The coordinator works with the county to keep a list of vendors and make sure they have the supplies needed to fulfill requests. The county's 17 skilled nursing facilities are polled daily to confirm they have enough PPE, according to the application.

One of the state requirements is to have no more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents over a two week period or for the rate of COVID-positive tests to be less than 8% in a one week period.

The county's current rate is 62 cases per 100,000 residents — more than twice the state benchmark. However, it passes the other part of the requirement, for testing. Only about 3.2% of tests in the county were COVID-positive June 3 through 9.

The county is also expanding its staffing for contact tracing. It has already increased the number of full-time people working on contact tracing from eight to 30, and plans to increase that to 75 by July by recruiting from among other county departments. The health department plans to be ready to expand the number of contact tracers to investigate up to 230 cases per day with 115 full-time employees by recruiting.

For much of the time the public health orders have been in effect, COVID-19 testing was not offered unless someone showed symptoms. With the loosening of those restrictions to people who are mild or moderately ill, presymptomatic or asymptomatic, the county has been able to exceed the state's benchmark for the number of daily tests offered by 26%, or about 1,151. During the week of May 31 to June 6, the county averaged 1,456 tests per day.

The county reports it's planning to target high-risk communities by testing all symptomatic and asymptomatic adults and their caregivers in skilled nursing facilities and congregate care settings every two weeks. The county has also been expanding testing services in East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks, Daly City and Half Moon Bay.

As of June 10, about 20% of the positive cases of COVID-19 and 63% of the COVID-19 related deaths in the county have been associated with congregate care facilities.

The county is planning to develop a draft of a COVID-19 containment plan by July 3.

Comments

Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2020 at 8:38 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2020 at 8:38 pm
12 people like this

Now we are all going to get in our cars and drive just a few miles north to get these services since we can't get them in Palo Alto.

Wait for Santa Clara County to suddenly decide it is safe to do the same when they work out how much sales dollars are going to San Mateo instead.


resident
Menlo Park
on Jun 17, 2020 at 8:43 pm
resident, Menlo Park
on Jun 17, 2020 at 8:43 pm
6 people like this

I hope they are not moving too fast. I read horror stories in the news about states that opened bars and barber shops and churches a couple of weeks ago and are now seeing a surge in hospitalizations. Once one person catches the virus, they quickly spread it to their family and co-workers.


Ha k
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:44 am
Ha k, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:44 am
3 people like this

Resident - you are talking about states that threw everything open. We are doing it in a slow manner.
You also should become aware of how the virus is spread before you parrot inaccurate information


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2020 at 3:21 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2020 at 3:21 pm
Like this comment

Well, the good news is that the rate of new cases has been holding fairly steady. The bad news is that it is kind of high. "The county's current rate is 62 cases per 100,000 residents — more than twice the state benchmark." Particularly in the City of San Mateo itself. Web Link


TimR
Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2020 at 5:26 pm
TimR, Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2020 at 5:26 pm
6 people like this

Finally, I can get a haircut! It won't be from my normal person in Palo Alto, but at this point, I don't really care. I'm sure Menlo Park has good barbers, too.


JR
Palo Verde
on Jun 18, 2020 at 6:21 pm
JR, Palo Verde
on Jun 18, 2020 at 6:21 pm
10 people like this

Palo Alto and/or Santa Clara County should follow suit and reopen our businesses. There's absolutely no sense in leaving businesses on one side of the creek closed when people can literally walk across a bridge to the same open businesses in Menlo Park. Like it or not, San Mateo County has forced the matter, there's no sense in dragging our feet.


Anonymous
Southgate
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:33 am
Anonymous, Southgate
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:33 am
2 people like this

If you look at covid hospitalizations on the Santa Clara County dashboard, they are basically zero. We should be able to open up some more.


LadyPI
another community
on Jun 19, 2020 at 11:43 am
LadyPI, another community
on Jun 19, 2020 at 11:43 am
1 person likes this

The Portola Valley barber and his client are not wearing masks which are mandatory in SM Co.
Great way to spread virus guys!


check please
another community
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:40 pm
check please, another community
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:40 pm
2 people like this

"The Portola Valley barber and his client are not wearing masks which are mandatory in SM Co.
Great way to spread virus guys!"

Read the caption. Photo from last November.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Not sure?