San Mateo County joined six other local jurisdictions on Wednesday in significantly loosening restrictions drawn to lessen the spread of COVID-19. Beginning Monday, Bay Area residents have more recreation possibilities and can continue construction and some other work.
Under the new orders, which also extend the shelter-in-place through May 31, all construction projects will be allowed to resume as long as the project complies with safety protocols included with the order. The press release states that all real estate transactions will also now be able to resume, but with continued restrictions on open houses and limitations on in-person viewings. Any employee allowed to return to work at a facility can also access childcare programs that can operate.
The press release continues, noting certain outdoor businesses can also begin operating again, and people can visit those businesses to perform work or obtain goods, services, or supplies. This includes wholesale and retail nurseries, landscapers, gardeners, and other businesses that primarily provide outdoor services as set forth in the order. Outdoor businesses do not include restaurants, cafes or bars, regardless of whether they have outdoor seating.
Other activities that can resume under the new order include residential moves and the use of certain shared outdoor recreational facilities that were previously ordered closed, like skate parks. Other park infrastructure that involve shared equipment or physical contact, will remain off limits.
San Mateo County is also loosening the five-mile restriction as it pertains to recreation. People will now be able to travel up to 10 miles to recreate on the Coastside. Beach parking will remain closed in San Mateo County.
Earlier, the county said it would open some trails and parks — including some on the Coastside — beginning Monday. The parks have been closed since March 27 in an effort to keep people from congregating as coronavirus spread through the community.
The county is opening 13 of its 23 parks. Visitors will be required to maintain six feet between themselves and others, to hike single file on narrow trails and to carry a face covering. Some trails may be designated as one way.
Edgewood, Huddart, Wunderlich, San Pedro Valley, Quarry, Pillar Point Bluff, San Bruno Mountain, Mirada Surf West, Junipero Serra Park and Pescadero Creek are among those due to reopen. The segment of the Bay Trail that goes through Coyote Point Recreation Area will be accessible, but the park will remain closed. Ralston Bike Trail, which crosses over Highway 280 and connects bicyclists to Canada Road, will also reopen.
The Devil’s Slide Trail will remain closed to visitors. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve trails will be open for use, but the tidepools closed.
While the parks themselves will open, some parking lots serving them will remain closed. County officials envision users walking to the parks. Playgrounds and campgrounds will still be closed, as will some restrooms.
The newly reopened parks will be available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. For a complete list visit smcparks.gov.
While the restrictions are easing, health officials were careful to say the threat is not passed. There have been more than 250 deaths due to COVID-19 in the seven Bay Area jurisdictions since the shelter-in-place order was first put in place on March 15. There have been more than 7,000 confirmed cases over the period.
There are a number of indicators officials are using to determine whether further easing is possible. They are watching to see whether the total number of cases and hospitalizations are decreasing, whether testing is deemed adequate and whether they are able to monitor and trace contacts for new cases as they come up.