Dr. Erica Pan, interim public health officer for Alameda County, today extended COVID-19 shelter-in-place restrictions through May 31, although some previously prohibited activities will be allowed.

In a joint statement with six other Bay Area public health officers, Pan said beginning May 4, all construction activities, businesses that primarily operate outdoors, and some outdoor activities will be allowed to resume, under certain conditions.

Bay Area public health officers, including Pan, first issued a shelter-in-place order in mid-March, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The order issued today said that social distancing has been effective in preventing a surge in cases, but most of the restrictions need to continue. The revised order, which takes effect May 4, covers everyone living or working in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, as well as the City of Berkeley.

“We are thankful our residents and businesses have complied with the shelter-in-place order and helped us to flatten the curve,” Pan said. “Social distancing hasn’t been easy, but it has slowed the increase of new cases, prevented our health systems from becoming overwhelmed, and saved lives. However, this virus is still in our communities. Everyone needs to continue to shelter-in-place and wear a face covering when out.”

As of April 28, there were 7,273 confirmed cases (up from 258 confirmed cases on March 15) and 266 deaths (up from four deaths on March 15) in the seven public health jurisdictions.

Under the revised order, construction projects can resume as long as the project complies with safety protocols. Real estate transactions can also resume, with restrictions on open houses and in-person viewings. Employees who return to work will also be allowed to use approved child care programs.

Some outdoor businesses can reopen, including wholesale and retail nurseries, landscapers, gardeners, and other businesses that primarily provide outdoor services. Individuals will be allowed to visit those businesses to work or to obtain goods, services, or supplies. Those businesses, however, do not include restaurants, cafes or bars, even if they have outdoor seating.

Other activities that can resume include residential moves and the use of some outdoor recreational facilities, such as skate parks, but not those that involve sharing equipment or physical contact.

"The new order allows us to carefully monitor our progress while building the essential public health infrastructure – such as contact tracing and testing capacity – that will support our gradual reopening and make recovery possible,” said Dr. Tomás Aragon, health officer for San Francisco.

The health officers also released “indicators” they said would be used to measure community progress in containing the virus and determine and when and how to further ease shelter-in-place restrictions in the weeks and months to come. Those indicators include:

• Whether the total number of COVID-19 cases is flat or decreasing.

• Whether COVID-19 hospitalizations are flat or decreasing.

• Whether there is an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for health care workers.

• Whether there is adequate testing for COVID-19, especially for persons in vulnerable populations or high-risk settings or occupations.

• Whether the public health districts have the capacity to investigate all COVID-19 cases and trace all of their contacts, isolating those who test positive and quarantining those who may have been exposed.

For more information, visit www.acphd.org.