Bay Area guide to reopening: What each county allows

Counties across the state of California have taken gradual steps toward creating a new normal, easing stay-at-home restrictions and reopening businesses. 

Although the state has outlined four broad phases for reopening during the coronavirus pandemic, Bay Area counties have opted to go at their own pace. Sometimes they act in unison, but at other points, the counties act individually, which creates confusion for residents trying to remember what's permitted. 

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
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. 

While the state has authorized some counties to reopen office workplaces and additional industries, like dine-in restaurants, Alameda County is not reopening those sectors just yet.

Are face masks required? Yes. 

The Alameda County Health Public Health Department issued an order on April 17 for all residents and workers to wear face coverings when conducting essential business and when around others outside of their immediate household.

Contra Costa County
Current Phase: 2 

Retail stores in Contra Costa County can offer curbside sales and outdoor pickups as long as they abide by certain safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Retailers cannot display merchandise for sale on tables or outside the stores. Customers cannot enter the store or any indoor shopping mall. Stores must require customers to comply with social distancing requirements at the pickup areas, including marking locations at six-foot intervals for customers to stand while waiting in line.

“While this is not a return to normal, it is one step in that direction” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer. “We will be closely monitoring the effects of allowing curbside retail on the spread of COVID-19 in the community.”

Are face masks required? Yes. 

A health order took effect on April 22 for anyone working at or visiting an essential business, such as a grocery store or gas station, to wear face coverings. The order also requires public transit and government workers to wear masks when they come close to others, or where the public is likely to be present.

Marin County
Current Phase: 2
Curbside pickup from retail stores is now permitted. The county is also allowing vehicle access to some parks, trails, and outdoor recreation areas. However, there will be no loosening of access at some locations that tend to draw larger crowds from across the Bay Area, creating conditions where visitors cannot comply with social distancing requirements.

The following Marin County Park facilities remain closed to vehicle access:

  • Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area (including Muir Woods National Monument)
  • Mount Tamalpais State Park
  • Tomales Bay State Park
  • Samuel P Taylor State Park
  • Chicken Ranch Beach
  • Miller Park
  • White House Pool Park
  • Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve
  • Bolinas Park
  • All Marin Municipal Water District lands, and all beaches along the Pacific Ocean or inlets of the Pacific Ocean (not including the San Francisco Bay)

Are face masks required? Yes. 

Everyone is asked to wear face coverings when they are interacting with others who are not members of their household in public and in private spaces. Specifically, the order states that people must wear face coverings when:

  • Inside public spaces or waiting in line to enter public spaces
  • Seeking health care
  • Waiting for or riding on mass transit or other shared transportation
  • In common areas of buildings, such as hallways, stairways, elevators and parking facilities.
  • Workers at businesses physically open and in areas where the public is present, likely to be present, or at any time when others are nearby.
  • Workers in any space where food is being prepared and/or packaged for sale.
  • Drivers/operators of public transit.

Napa County
Current Phase: 2

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. 

Since May 8, the county has authorized retail, manufacturing, and warehouses to restart operations. Retailers can only offer curbside pickup using hands-free payment devices and delivery Wineries and tasting rooms are not eligible to open until Phase 3, county officials said. 

On May 26, California allowed Napa County to move forward with opening barbershops and salons if they choose. 

Are face masks required? Yes. 

Napa County requires the public to wear cloth face coverings when inside places of business and in workplaces when interacting with someone and 6 feet of physical distance cannot be accomplished.

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

Santa Clara County
Current Phase: 2
Santa Clara County joined the rest of the Bay Area in advancing to Phase 2 of the state's opening plan. The county now allows retail establishments to offer storefront pickup, and permits manufacturing, warehousing, and logistical operations that support the retail sector to also resume. 

County health officials are asking businesses to be mindful of social distancing protocols and public health guidance to protect employees and customers from COVID-19 as activities resume. 

"We now a little bit of headroom to cautiously take a step forward," Santa Clara County Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody. 

Cody emphasized that customers must wear face masks and maintain at least six-feet apart. 

The public health director said conditions on the ground have not changed and the community is one susceptible to infection, which is why the Santa Clara County has moved cautiously in gradually reopening. 

But after the county allowed construction and outdoor businesses to resume on May 4, COVID-19 indicators did not show an increase in cases. Cody said that's why the county has decided to move in the early stages of Phase 2. 

Are face masks required? Yes. 

In Santa Clara County residents are required to wear a face covering whenever at any business, even if it's outdoors. People are also required to wear face coverings while riding on public transit. 

San Francisco County
Current Phase: 2
After much anticipation from retail businesses in San Francisco, on Monday, May 18, they were finally able to reopen in a limited capacity. 

According to San Francisco Mayor London Breed, about 95% of all retailers in the city were forced to close as the threat of COVID-19 increased. Now, with the city making process in mitigating the spread of the disease, public health officials decided to loosen some restrictions in allowing retailers, except for shopping malls, to open for curbside pickup. 

“Businesses that will be allowed to open next week won’t be able to operate like they used to but this hopefully offers a measure of support," Mayor Breed said. 

Are face masks required? Yes. 

People are required to wear something to cover their faces when shopping, taking transit or getting healthcare.

Face coverings are not required to be worn when:

  • At home
  • In your car alone or if you’re only with members of your household
  • Exercising outdoors, like walking, hiking, bicycling, or running

Julio Mis, the executive sous chef at Sociale, prepares dinners for delivery and curbside pickup in the kitchen with a reduced staff on March 27, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

San Mateo County
Current Phase: 2
San Mateo County is now in alignment with the state's reopening plan. While the county continues to restrict most activity and travel to essential needs, some businesses and activities are permitted. 

Businesses that are allowed to operate with certain restrictions include retail stores and related retail supply chain operations, such as bookstores, jewelry stores, toy stores, clothing and shoe stores, home and furnishing stores, sporting goods stores, and florists.

Retailers can operate for curbside or outside pickup only, including a drive-through window. Customers cannot enter the store, and workers must adhere to the social distancing protocols.

In addition to curbside or outdoor pickup, products must be ordered in advance. Stores must have direct access to an immediately adjacent sidewalk, street, or alley area for pickup without blocking access or creating congestion. Retail stores in an enclosed indoor shopping center that do not have direct access such areas are not allowed to reopen.

Other businesses that may resume operations include those offering services that do not require close customer contact such as pet grooming, dog walking, car washes, appliance repair, and residential and janitorial cleaning and plumbing.

Outdoor museums may open if exhibitions are located outdoors. Staff and customers must wear a face covering at all times, and any indoor components of the museum remain closed to the public.

Are face masks required? Yes. 

People must wear face coverings when they need to leave their home for work or obtain essential goods and services.

Solano County
Current Phase: 2

On May 20, Solano County was given the approval from state officials to advance more quickly through Stage 2 of the governor's reopening plan.

The county is permitted to reopen retail stores like shopping malls and swap-meets, dine-in restaurants, and schools – all with social distancing modifications.

"We believe that we are ready for this next step in the recovery process and look forward to expanding opportunities for our public and business communities," says Erin Hannigan, District 1 Supervisor and Chairwoman of the Solano County Board of Supervisors.

On May 8, Solano County gave the all-clear for these low-risk businesses to reopen so long as they implemented and maintained social distancing practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19: 

  • Retail stores including bookstores, jewelry stores, toy stores, clothing and shoe stores, home and furnishing stores, sporting good stores and florists
  • Office-based businesses (telework strongly encouraged) 
  • Manufacturing 
  • Pet grooming 
  • County and city/local parks (except playgrounds, campgrounds and beaches)
  • Outdoor recreational activities (including golf, tennis, hiking, and boating)
  • Select services: car washes, pet grooming, landscape gardening
  • Outdoor museums, and open gallery spaces and other public spaces with modifications  
  • On May 26, California allowed Solano County to move forward with opening barbershops and salons if they choose. 

Are face masks required? No, but strongly recommended. 

The Solano County Public Health Department recommends community members wear cloth face coverings when in public.

Sonoma County
Current Phase: 2 
On Friday, May 22, Sonoma County gave the okay for additional businesses to reopen that include:

  • Restaurants and food facilities may offer onsite sit-down outdoor meals
  • Wineries, tasting rooms, bars, pubs, breweries and craft distilleries may offer: a) curbside pick-up, delivery, shipping; and b) sit-down outdoor meals in accordance with their land use permit and if the business has a food-facility permit (if applicable)

For questions about food-facility or host-facility permits, you should contact Environmental Health at 707-565-6565 or eh@sonoma-county.org
If you have questions on land-use permits, you can contact Permit Sonoma by email at planner@sonoma-county.org.

  • Summer day camps and other educational or recreational institutions or programs may provide childcare/supervision for children of all ages
  • Ceremonies (including graduations and religious activities) may be conducted with household members attending in closed motorized vehicles
  • Drive-in movies 
  • Libraries can libraries offer curbside pickup
  • faith-based counseling may be delivered face-to-face when a virtual session via video or audio conference is not possible.

A previous order in Sonoma Co. had allowed the following:

  • Car washes
  • Pet groomers
  • Dog walking services
  • Residential and janitorial cleaning services
  • Outdoor museums
  • Open air galleries

These businesses should remain closed:

  • Zoos
  • Amusement parks
  • Indoor gallery and museum spaces
  • Hair salons
  • Barbershops
  • Nail salons
  • Massage parlors
  • Tattoo parlors.

Childcare facilities are now open to everyone, not just essential workers.

In addition, workspaces where teleworking is not possible can reopen to employees but must remain closed to the public. Office activities cannot convert from telework to in-person.

On May 8, retail stores and manufacturers were allowed to reopen for curbside pickup and delivery, but the county has since expanded that to also include shopping malls, strip malls, and outlets. All storefront and indoor mall access must remain closed to the public.

On May 26, California allowed Sonoma County to move forward with opening barbershops and salons if they choose, however the health officer chose to hold back for now. 

Are face masks required? Yes. 

A public health order for Sonoma County requiring that everyone wear facial coverings remains in effect. 

The Order states people must wear a facial covering before they enter:

  • an indoor facility (except their home)
  • any enclosed space
  • an outdoor space where they cannot keep a distance of six feet away from others at all times.