Bay Area guide to COVID-19 rules: What each county allows

Bay Area counties had attempted to restore normalcy to life in the region with the gradual lifting of shelter-in-place restrictions, but the coronavirus' resurgence had led state and local officials to reimpose shutdowns.

Since August 1, the nine counties that make up the Bay Area were all on the state's monitoring list for at least three straight days, which triggers a mandatory shutdown of many indoor busineses and activities.

With changes happening to the rules happening so frequently, there's confusion for residents trying to remember what's allowed and prohibited. 

Here's where the Bay Area stands as most of the state moves forward with varying reopening plans.

People practice social distancing waiting in line to enter a Target store on April 13, 2020, in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Alameda County
Current Phase: 2

After conflict with state authorities, Alameda County won permission to reopen outdoor dining on July 15.

The variance requires customers to wear a mask at all times except during "the physical act of eating or drinking." 

The approval also allowed the financially struggling Oakland Zoo to reopen its outdoor exhibits. 

Gyms and services in churches, mosques and other houses of worship are closed. 

Child care and camps, however, may be open with restrictions.

Within Alameda County, the city of Fremont has stricter rules about face masks that mandate employees and customers wear them at all times while at an essential business, according to Eater

In early June, the county relaxed its shelter-in-place rule by allowing people to gather in "social bubbles."

Alameda County began allowing curbside and storefront pickup from retail businesses and associated manufacturing and warehousing businesses on May 18. The county also permitted regulated vehicle-based gatherings for events, such as graduation ceremonies. 

Contra Costa County
Current Phase: Phase 2

The most recent major update to the COVID-19 rules in Contra Costa County was on July 28 when officials authorized fines for violations of the public health orders. Individuals who don't wear face masks in many public situations or maintain social distance could be issued a citation. 

Before that, Contra Costa County has experienced whiplash as it has been added, removed and added again to California's watch list of coronaviurs hot spots.

CoCo county was among the first to close many indoor activities for a second time. Restaurants, bars, and movie theaters were included in that second round of shutdowns on July 1.

In an attempt to inhibit the spread of the virus. the county has enacted more stringent rules compelling people to face masks in almost all public settings, such as while dining outdoors at restaurants or gathered with other members of a "social bubble."

Counties like Contra Costa, which find themselves on the state watch list, will find it tougher to reopen schools than areas with a less severe coronavirus outbreak. Districts can only return teachers and students to classrooms if they are in a county that has not been on the list for two weeks, Newsom said.

Previously, shopping malls and other indoor retail businesses were allowed to reopen on June 3. 

Marin County
Current Phase: 2

As officials began to emphasize the importance of face coverings in the fight against the virus, Marin County in July stipulated that face masks must be worn while inside a public space or waiting to enter a public space. 

By mid-July, Marin County was like much of the Bay Area. Bars, indoor dining, places of worship and gyms had been shut. 

Eating outdoors at restaurants remained possible and personal services from barbershops and nail salons, were given the ability to reopen on July 20. 

The county has permitted smaller gathering with guidelines for "social bubbles."

Officials in Marin had shown an interest in a gradual return to classrooms for students and teachers in the fall. Putting that plan into effect, however, cannot happen while the county is on the state watch list. In-person learning cannot happen until a county has been off the list for two weeks. 

Napa County
Current Phase: 2

Since mid-July, people in Napa County who go in public without covering their face may be fined $25 to $500. The penalties could also be imposed on people who hold public gatherings. Businesses also face penalties for failing to enforce facial covering requirements and other rules to limit the spread of the coronavirus. 

Napa County was the first Bay Area county to advance further in Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan in allowing dine-in service to resume at restaurants. But Napa's progress was turned back as the county became affected by the surge in coroanvirus cases that has gripped California. 

Bars, indoor dining, gyms, and houses of worship were shut in the county. Eating outdoors at restaurants was still permitted and Newsom's new rules on July 20 will enable salons and barbershops to operate outdoors. 

A family shopping at the San Jose Flea Market that reopened on Friday, May 15, 2020, after a two-month hiatus.

San Francisco County
Current Phase: 2

San Francisco, like other parts of the Bay Area, has forced recently reopened businesses to shut down as the outbreak was worsening. 

On July 20, indoor shopping at the Stonestown Galleria and Westfield mall shuttered again, although stores at those sites with separate outdoor entrances were exempt.  Dining is again limited to restaurants with seating in the fresh air. 

Some personal services from hair and nail salons may be performed outside. 

Fitness centers, houses of worship and bars remain closed. 

The city's public school district announced the fall term would begin with students learning exclusively from home on August 17. It's possible that public schools will switch to a hybrid model in which students and teachers meet in classrooms in a limited capacity at some point, Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. 

Health officials gave restaurants the OK to begin outdoor dining services on Friday, June 12. 

In addition, businesses can apply for the city’s Shared Spaces Program to use sidewalks, parking lanes, streets, or other nearby public spaces like parks and plazas for restaurant pick-up and outdoor dining. 

San Mateo County
Current Phase: 2

San Mateo was the last Bay Area county to land on the state's monitoring list.

The change in status took effect on Sunday, August 3. Indoor businesses like gyms and salons must close or get permission to operate outdoors. Religious services and ceremonies are also prohibited indoors. 

County supervisors voted on August 4 to impose fines on businesses and people that violate COIVD-19 rules, such as wearing face coverings in public. 

Bars and indoor dining are closed in San Mateo County as they are throughout California because of a state rule. 

Santa Clara County
Current Phase: 2

Face mask requirements have been stepped up in Santa Clara County. A mask or other covering must be worn when inside or waiting to enter a business, during face-to-face interactions and when people who do not live together cannot maintain social distancing. 

Santa Clara had just allowed hair salons, gyms and other businesses to reopen indoors on July 13, but got upstaged by Gov. Newsom's revised statewide rules that forced those same businesses to go dark again two days later.

Currently, outdoor dining is allowed, but indoor religious services, bars, and many other indoor gathering spots have been shut. Even restaurants that served customers al fresco have encountered confusion as they were visited by state liquor officials who allegedly provided conflicting information on what's allowed. 

Solano County
Current Phase: 2

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, July 1, ordered Solano County to cease indoor operations for three weeks, including restaurants and family entertainment centers. Newsom said Solano County, along with 19 other counties across the state, are seeing a surge in COVID-19 activity. 

Those closures were extended indefinitely on July 13 by a statewide order. 

The shutdown also means that salons, tattoo parlors, religious services, and gyms are among the gathering places that must be closed indoors. 

Solano County was among the earliest in the region and state to attempt a reopening. In May, the county had even announced it would plan to let schools reopen in the fall, an idea that may not go forward until the county emerges from the state watch list for two weeks. 

Sonoma County
Current Phase: 2 

Sonoma County's gradual reopening came to a halt on July 10 when the county appeared on the state's watch list

Days later, Gov. Newsom shut many indoor gathering spots, like restaurants, bars, gyms and houses of worship across the state. That shutdown also affects Sonoma County's wineries, breweries, cardrooms

Outdoor dining is one of the few activities that have remained open as the coronavirus surge continues deeper into the summer.