Some flocking to San Mateo County where virus shutdown orders not in effect

Some Bay Area residents have been flocking to San Mateo County, and that has at least one government official there concerned.

San Mateo is one of three Bay Area counties not currently under stay at home orders, so people have been heading there to do some of the things they can’t do in their own counties. Napa and Solano are the other two counties not under stay at home orders.

But San Mateo is uniquely positioned because it’s surrounded by counties that are under the order.

The parking lot at Serramonte Center in Daly City was packed Sunday evening.

The San Mateo County shopping center has been crowded recently as people from San Francisco and other counties have been coming in.

“I feel you try to capitalize on every opportunity to get out right now, to be honest,” said Kevin Carpiso of San Francisco.

Also in the crowd, a 14-year-old who says she takes safety seriously because family members have died from COVID-19. 

She said she’d rather not be out, but felt compelled to keep an eye on her mom.

“Yeah, I didn’t want to come but also was going to come with my mom because I knew she wouldn’t take those rules so seriously, so I have to come with her, to remind her of the rules,” said Sarah Morales from San Mateo.

While limited indoor shopping is still allowed in other counties, certain things like salon visits and outdoor dining are not in Bay Area counties under stay at home orders.

But in San Mateo county, those things are accessible, so some people have been coming here.

They’re bringing in money, but they could also be bringing in the virus, which is why one county official is urging outsiders to stay closer to home.

“So my plea, my begging is for those people outside of San Mateo county please respect our county and don't come to our county to shop or use the restaurants,” said San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa.

Diners from Fremont at a restaurant in Menlo Park said they were here visiting family and thought outdoor dining would be safer than a family meal indoors.

“I mean, there’s nothing open in Alameda right now and we wanted to get together with family so here we are, decided to meet up in San Mateo,” said Bilquis Ayar.

A few miles down the road at restaurant Evvia in Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, it’s takeout only, similar to the rules in San Francisco.

A manager says with San Mateo County sandwiched between San Francisco and Santa Clara, he finds it odd all counties aren’t playing by the same rules.

“If we’re bringing these orders on for the health of our community, our community is larger than the borders of the counties in which we work and live,” said Lyle Coffield, Manager Evvia Estiatorio.

Technically, San Mateo, Napa, and Solano counties are playing by the rules because they don’t have to officially issue stay at home orders until ICU capacity in the region is 15% or below, and it’s currently 16.7%.

Other counties have simply decided to be proactive and preempt what’s considered inevitable and issued the stay at home order sooner, rather than wait.