North Bay counties leaning toward reopening retail sector, other Bay Area counties undecided

While California is one step closer to restarting its economy after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he’ll allow some industries to open again possibly by the end of this week, Bay Area health officers are weighing on on what they plan to do.

On Tuesday, KTVU reached out all the Bay Area counties about their plans. The question: Since Newsom said he'd allow "low-risk" businesses in California like book stores, clothing stores, sporting good stores and florists to open with curbside pickup by Friday, would the Bay Area follow suit? 

  • Napa and Solano counties both said they plan to move in the direction of reopening, but logistically wondered how they might actually do that. Napa County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Relucio said “You will see some activity in loosening our shelter at home orders so that we can be at the governor’s level.”
  • An Alameda County spokesperson said health officers will review the updated guidance and base decisions on local developments and data. Santa Clara County issued a similar response: A spokesperson said the county is reviewing what the "governor has said and once changes are made to the state order, the county will comment as appropriate."
  • San Mateo County Dr. Scott Morrow seemed to lean toward not reopening so quickly. He said officials plan to stick to tracking progress "on our five key indicators to determine when we're ready to move on to the next stage of relaxing our current shelter-in-place restrictions, which were previously proposed to be in place through the end of May." Contra Costa County officials said essentially the same thing. 
  • Sonoma County said they will evaluate the state order when they receive it on Thursday. They said their most recent health order issued last Friday, which allows for some curbside services like florists, is congruent with the governor's orders.  
  • Marin County didn't immediately respond. 

As for San Francisco Mayor London Breed? She didn’t say yes or no to Newsom’s announcement but she cryptically said,  "we’re going to be paying close attention to what we’ve already allowed if we’re not able to manage and maintain those with our distancing requirements it’s going to be very, very difficult to start to get back to business.”

She added at a news conference: “We also realize there are a number of people struggling financially and if there is a way we can accomplish the public health goal of keeping people safe while allowing businesses to operate but to operate differently with certain guidelines we can definitely work together to achieve that goal and get to a better place.”

Newsom on Monday also specifically said that not every county has to allow these openings – some with strict guidelines – like Bay Area counties - can choose to wait. Other counties, in rural areas, have fewer COVID-19 deaths and have already started to reopen businesses. 

Newsom says he understands each county’s coronavirus experience is different – but state health officials say allowing businesses to make these changes can happen because tools overall are in place.

Newsom said counties can move more quickly through this stage if they meet certain criteria that include capacity on testing, distancing and protecting the most vulnerable.

If their plans can be certified by their local health officials and county supervisors – they’ll be allowed to move further into phase two which includes reopening some restaurants and hospitality services.

Last week, Newsom released his four-stage roadmap to reopen the state. And we are now heading into Stage 2. 

Stage 3 could be weeks or months away and includes opening higher risk businesses like hair salons – gyms and movie theaters.

Sara Zendehnam is a reporter forKTVU.  Email Sara at and follow her on Twitter@szendehnam