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Alameda County will further relax its COVID-19 restrictions on businesses as of Friday, June 19.

Under new orders issued by interim Health Officer Erica Pan, outdoor museums and fitness classes, restaurants with outdoor seating, and both indoor and outdoor retail stores will be allowed to reopen, but still must follow social distancing guidelines and limits on capacity.

Churches will be allowed to resume indoor services, but must limit the number of congregants to no more than 100 or 25% of building capacity, whichever is less. Nevertheless, the order “strongly” recommends that churches continue to hold services online, especially for high-risk worshipers, or limit attendance to no more than 25 and hold services outdoors.

Regardless of the relaxed restrictions, the revised order still urges individuals and businesses to focus primarily on pick-up and delivery options to limit lines and crowds.

“The indicators we monitor to determine if we should continue moving forward through reopening are stable or improving,” Pan said. “We will continue to have more cases [of COVID-19}, but the steady increase in hospitalizations and the steep increase in the case rate we were seeing in late May has slowed and the hospitalizations have stabilized. We are also making significant progress in expanding and improving the efficiency of our contact tracing teams.”

The county expects to loosen restrictions in 2 to 4-week increments, according to its reopening plan.

The last updated order, issued on June 8, relaxed restrictions on extracurricular youth activities, daycare centers and camps. However, it required all persons over age 12 to wear face masks when out in public, within 30-feet of anyone not in their “social bubble”, or at work.

The county defines a “social bubble” as a “stable group of not more than 12 individuals, who may attend outdoor social or other events together.” Social bubble may involve more than one family group, but no one may participate in more than one social bubble.

“I’m glad to see that we can take this step forward as a county,” said District 1 Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who represents Dublin, Livermore and much of the unincorporated area of the Livermore-Amador Valley.

“It’s important to have parity across our small and large businesses, as well as across the region,” Haggerty said. “The health of Alameda County residents is paramount and I’m confident that our restaurants, retailers and faith communities will prioritize the safety of their staff, customers, and community.”

Businesses allowed to operate under the health officer orders must complete site-specific protection planning that includes physical distancing, disinfecting and cleaning protocols, and employee training to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants are expected to work with the county’s Department of Environmental Health and their respective cities on their plans for outdoor dining.