New Bay Area shelter-in-place order forbids playgrounds, most construction

As the number of positive coronavirus cases rises and is expected to surge, more Bay Area health officials came forward on Tuesday formally announcing that a previous shelter-in-place order was extended until at least May 3.

The new order adds some clarifying language around what constitutes essential business and activities, and adds some new crackdowns: 

  • Use of playgrounds, dog parks, public picnic areas, and similar recreational areas is prohibited. These areas must be closed to public use.
  • Use of shared public recreational facilities such as golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, pools, and rock walls is prohibited. These facilities must be closed for recreational use.
  • Sports requiring people to share a ball or other equipment must be limited to people in the same household.
  • Most construction—residential and commercial—is prohibited. There are eight types of exceptions including for affordable housing, work on healthcare facilities, homeless shelters and certain types of public works projects. 
  • Funerals limited to no more than 10 people attending.
  • Childcare facilities may only provide care to children or dependents of people working for essential businesses, providing essential governmental functions, or performing minimum basic operations for non-essential businesses.

"We are bending the curve," Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said at a Tuesday news conference. "But it's not enough." 

Hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise, they said. Confirmed cases have increased more than eight-fold since March 16 to more than 2,000 in the Bay Area, and the death toll has risen to 51, the counties said.  

She and others said the extension will allow doctors and nurses to better treat those who do get sick.

The first shelter-in-place order for the region's roughly 7 million residents was issued on March 16 and originally supposed to last until April 7.

The counties participating in these strict orders are:  AlamedaContra CostaMarinSanta ClaraSan FranciscoSan Mateo, and Berkeley. 

The order can be enforced with citations and fines, which officials hope they won't have to use.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said most of people will first be educated, but he added that it is possible to yank business licenses and prosecute "flagrant" violators. 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Monday was the first to publicly announce the decision at a news conference, saying she knew it was hard to "essentially shut down" the city of 1 million people. 

San Francisco has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the Bay Area, next to Santa Clara County. 

The other counties added that their original shelter-in-place mandates still hold: Residents may only leave their home for grocery trips, doctor's appointments and walks around their neighborhood.

What is still allowed as per the order: takeout food and walking in your neighborhood or nearby trails for exercise. 

Only "essential" workers are also allowed to work outside the home through this order, while "non-essential" employees are either working from home, or finding themselves laid off or furloughed. 

California has more than 7,400 confirmed cases and and nearly 150 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. In the last four days, hospitalizations have doubled and patients in intensive care tripled to 600.

Bay Area and California leaders are both trying to avoid what is happening in New York, where as of Tuesday, 1,500 people had died because of coronavirus.

New York City waited almost a week after the Bay Area ordered a shelter in place to order one of their own. 

The Bay Area and state breakdown: 

  • Alameda County: 283 cases, 7 deaths
  • Contra Costa County: 187 cases, 3 deaths 
  • Marin County: 98 cases, 4 deaths
  • Monterey County: 36 cases, 1 death
  • Napa County: 15 cases
  • San Francisco County: 397 cases, 6 deaths 
  • San Mateo County: 309 cases, 10 deaths 
  • Santa Clara County: 848 cases, 28 deaths
  • Santa Cruz County: 45 cases, 1 death
  • Solano County: 43 cases 
  • Sonoma County: 73 cases, 1 death
  • Statewide: 7,414 cases, 149 deaths

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Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez