Santa Clara County’s top lawyer attempted to provide some clarity Friday following mid-week confusion about what changes are coming to the region’s shelter-at-home order.
“One of my first principles as a lawyer is to first try to apply, as much as possible, common sense and judgment,” County Counsel James Williams said in defending the order. He framed the order as the county’s main tool to limit exposures and stop the spread of COVID-19.
The new order, extended on Wednesday, goes into effect on Monday, May 4, running through May 31. That means that none of the changes apply to this weekend, May 2-3. An immediate question was why there was any delay at all. Why not allow outdoor businesses and recreation to start up immediately?
“It was important to make sure that there was a little time, in part so that facilities can actually have these social distancing protocols In place an rigorously adopted,” Williams said.
What do the changes mean for our region?
The biggest changes to the status quo are around construction and some outdoor businesses and activities.
“All construction activity is allowed to resume,” Williams said in the video. Construction projects already have strict safety protocols, which are enhanced in this order. The county has developed specific requirement each for small and large projects.
Also restarting on Monday are some outdoor activities, including tennis and golf. Tennis must be played only with members of your immediate household. New state guidelines cleared up confusion from earlier in the week around golf. Singles golf can resume Monday at participating courses.
Childcare programs are also allowed to operate for families with essential workers. That includes summer programs and recreational programs. However, children must be in groups of fewer than 12 and the groups cannot change.
Williams and David Campos, a public information officer, were clear that even with the easing of some rules, staying home continues to be the most important action individuals can take.
And, for essential businesses and newly restarted activities, infection prevention efforts must occur.
“Social distancing requirements remain,” Williams said. He also reminded residents of the recommendation to wear a face covering and to practice good handwashing practices. The county order requires businesses to display their social distancing protocols.
While the easing marks a new phase, Williams cautioned against acting too quickly, calling on the 1918 influenza pandemic. In that tragedy, a second wave of infections proved extremely deadly, particularly in San Francisco.
County health officials announced a set of five indicators earlier this week, which will guide continued progress toward normalcy.