For more detailed information on COVID-19, please visit https://www.cityofberkeley.info/covid-19/
The following information is current as of October 14th. This website will be updated as needed. The City also maintains a COVID-19 dashboard, available here.
Shelter in Place
Regional Health Officers will use local data to guide decisions on further easing of shelter-in-place restrictions. Specifically, they're tracking five indicators to measure progress in containing COVID-19 and ensuring we have the infrastructure in place to protect the community as we begin to reopen:
- Total number of cases and hospitalized patients is flat or decreasing
- Sufficient hospital capacity to meet the needs of our residents
- Sufficient viral detections tests are being conducted
- Sufficient case investigation, contact tracing, and isolation/quarantine capacity
- 30-day supply of personal protective equipment for all healthcare workers
These indicators are designed to provide measurable goals that will spur action on the part of the community at large, and complement the high-level metrics being tracked by the State of California.
Visit cityofberkeley.info/covid19 for more information on COVID-19, recommendations from Berkeley Public Health, and changes to City services.
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October 14th Health Order Update - As the rate of COVID-19 spread slows, more public activities to open with restrictions
Smart choices and good habits reduce risk
Collective actions taken by people in Berkeley and Alameda County along with diligent public health work have led to decreasing daily COVID-19 case rates and lower test positivity -- metrics that mean that other public activities using safeguards will be allowed in the coming weeks.
This marks the second consecutive month in which those key state measurements have gone down, allowing the City and County to plan to open additional activities in a phased manner that minimizes potential for a surge of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Elementary schools, personal care services, gyms and indoor museums and galleries can already open with restrictions, aligning with the state. Berkeley’s Health Officer will also over the coming weeks allow opening of several public activities permitted by the state.
Playgrounds can open Friday Oct. 16, though the City will be inspecting each of its more than 60 playgrounds before announcing openings. Other activities may open with restrictions starting Oct. 26:
- Indoor dining up to 25% capacity or less than 100 people, whichever is less
- Indoor worship services up to 25% capacity or less than 100 people, whichever is less
- Indoor movie theaters up to 25% capacity or less than 100 people, whichever is less
- Expansion of indoor retail and malls at up to 50% of capacity and permitting food courts
Just because an activity is permitted doesn’t eliminate risk of infection. In fact, we know that indoor activities pose greater risk of transmission than outdoor ones. Shared, high-touch surfaces remain a potential source of exposure. People age 60 and over or those with underlying health conditions remain at greater risk of severe illness.
“COVID-19 remains a threat, so each person will need to evaluate their own risks and assess which activities they would like to prioritize and participate in,” said Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, the City of Berkeley Health Officer. “Developing good habits and making good choices collectively allow us to advance together."
Good habits and smart choices reduce risk
Everyone should ask three questions when considering a public activity. Instead of doing all public activities, budget your risk by prioritizing which ones are the most important and forgoing others.
While making tradeoffs to choose activities, everyone should always do the essentials: stay home when sick, wear face coverings, wash hands frequently, and keep physical distance with those not in your household. Get a flu shot.
Businesses can now serve more people outside, as the City has streamlined permitting processes and significantly expanded the range of allowed outdoor activities on both public and private property. See our outdoor commerce guide for assistance.
Playgrounds to open, but risk remains
Playgrounds may open on Friday Oct. 16 in compliance with the requirements in the State’s guidance. But parents and guardians will need to be conscious of the risk, and, if they choose to have their children use them, take steps to reduce those risks. They include:
- Keeping face coverings on anyone over the age of 2
- Using playgrounds only when 6 feet of distance or a capacity limit is met
- Consider alternate, less busy times
- Don’t eat or drink while at playgrounds
- Washing or sanitizing hands before and after use
- Limiting use to 30 minutes
- Avoiding coming to playgrounds if you are over age 60 or have underlying health conditions that put you at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.
“I am hopeful that the strong practices our community has embraced will continue to move us forward," said Dr. Hernandez. "We cannot control the virus, but the actions we do control have an impact and help open up more activities for us all."
September 2nd Health Order Update - AS NEW ACTIVITIES ARE ALLOWED, LIMIT WHAT YOU DO TO LOWER YOUR RISK.
When you pick one activity, consider what you will forego.
Manage your COVID-19 risk so that for each permitted activity you do, you sacrifice another.
If this is the week you choose to get your haircut at a salon, you might instead choose to postpone dining outdoors, get takeout or cook at home. You might choose to give more time between visits to the grocery store or bank.
Each activity adds risk, and by framing your activities in terms of trade offs, you can lower your risk level. For those over 60 years old or with underlying health conditions, choose fewer activities to more tightly manage your risk.
"There are now more options at the buffet of activities," said Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, Berkeley's Health Officer. "But, in terms of physical proximity with others, COVID-19 still forces us on a distancing diet. Don't go for everything on the table."
While budgeting risk, maintain daily habits
While making tradeoffs to choose activities, everyone should always do the essentials: stay home when sick, wear face coverings, wash hands frequently, and keep physical distance with those not in your household.
When leaving the safety of home, use three questions to help assess the risk of a particular activity: Where will you go? Who will attend? What will happen?
These questions should guide you to limit activities within a small, stable group of no more than 12 people that meets outdoors and uses both face coverings and distance when with other households.
These questions should also help you avoid confined spaces, crowds and close contact with those outside your household.
No one should choose to do all available activities. Budget your choices. When new options arise, such as indoor haircuts allowed by a new health order to start on Friday Sept. 4, choose what other activities you will forego.
See Appendix A of the Health Order for a list of all available activities.
Trade-offs enable more options, increase community resilience
The vast majority of people in Berkeley appear to be wearing face coverings. Merchants throughout the City have implemented safety measures. These trade-offs and implemented safety measures accumulate, lessening risk for individuals and for our community as a whole.
This measured approach to risk not only reduces an individual's chance of getting the virus, it also limits spread if you or others get infected.
Budgeting risk and limiting activities makes it easier for contact tracers to find others who may have had close contact to an infected person. Once they are quarantined, that further limits spread.
If your child is on a soccer team, consider giving up something else. Instead of getting a haircut, pedicure and manicure, choose one.
We want more activities to be allowed. When schools reopen, families should choose to restrict other activities -- and such a change would not open the door for more socializing among kids.
August 21: New outdoor activities to be permitted with restrictions: pools, barbers, wine tasting
Certain outdoor activities -- from pools to hair cuts -- will be allowed to open next week using COVID-19 safeguards, measures that reduce risk for lower-contact, limited duration activities during a pandemic.
Increased sanitation, limits on the total number of people, the use of appointments, verbal screening for symptoms and protective equipment are some of the required measures used for various activities permitted by a new City of Berkeley Health Officer Order, which will go into effect at 8am on Friday, August 28.
The new Health Order allows the following activities, with restrictions:
- Outdoor pools
- Outdoor personal care services
- Small, outdoor practices for school and college sports
- Live-streamed and live entertainment at vehicle-based gatherings
- Outdoor wine tasting
- Even as new activities are allowed, caution remains. There is still no effective treatment nor vaccine for COVID-19 disease. Alameda County as a whole, which includes Berkeley as an independent health jurisdiction, remains on a state monitoring list due to case rate and hospitalizations.
“This untreatable virus remains a threat,” said City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez. “Every person and every household should weigh even these newly permitted activities through the lens of risk -- and what they are comfortable with.”
Safeguards every person should take:
Dr. Hernandez urges everyone to continue to take precautions:
- Your home is still the safest place to be, especially for those at high risk
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water - or use hand sanitizer as a last resort
- Keep six feet apart from those outside your household
- Wear a face covering when you go out
- Hair salons, barbershops, and other personal care services
The updated order allows certain personal care services to resume, including haircuts, manicures, waxing, and massage. Providers must perform these services outdoors and follow guidance for outdoor personal care from the California Department of Public Health.
All personal care services must be offered by appointment only, with time reserved for cleaning and disinfecting service areas between customers. Providers are required to call customers in advance of their appointments to confirm they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and remind them to come to their appointment alone.
Both the provider and customer must wear face coverings during the appointment.
Services that would place providers in close contact with a customer’s face or require removal of face coverings - such as eyebrow waxing and threading, eyelash treatments, facials, and removal of facial hair - are still prohibited.
Outdoor swimming pools
Operators of outdoor swimming pools may also reopen, but must:
- Limit number of swimmers in shared areas
- Have at least one additional person, beyond a lifeguard, on duty at all times to ensure compliance with the order
- Have sign-up or reservations to stagger use when in residential complexes with unstaffed pools. Reservations and sign-ups are encouraged, but not required, for staffed pools
- Use social distancing measures, such as closing showers, locker rooms, and saunas and limiting elements that encourage poolside gathering, such as tables and chairs
- Require face coverings when not swimming
- Close water slides, water rides or other attractions
- City of Berkeley pools will be opening no sooner than Sept. 14.
Outdoor vehicle based gatherings with live entertainment
Live performances will be allowed outdoors at vehicle-based gatherings.
- Events can have no more than 12 personnel on site, including only the staff and performers essential to carry out the event, which can include live-streaming.
- Performers speaking, singing, or playing wind or brass instruments must be in an isolation booth and separated from others performers while speaking, singing, or playing instruments. Performers speaking, singing, or playing wind or brass instruments in an isolation booth are exempt from the Face Covering Order while performing.
- All other performers must wear a face covering at all times. All performers must keep a minimum of eight feet of distance from others.
Outdoor Wine Tasting
Wineries may conduct outdoor wine tastings that follow state guidelines as well as the following restrictions:
- Tastings must be by appointment only
- Beverages must be poured by staff, who should avoid touching patrons’ glasses or bottles
- Facilities must discontinue use of communal dump buckets, spit buckets, or other such vessels, and must provide patrons with individual, disposable containers to avoid splash contamination between guests.
- Face coverings must be worn at all times, except when drinking or eating.
- All indoor areas of the winery must be closed to the public, except to allow access to restrooms, hand washing facilities, quick pickup of food or other goods, or as necessary to access outdoor tasting areas. All indoor seating areas must be closed.
- Everyone has a role in keeping our community safe
Increased activities and movements will lead to more COVID-19 cases. Doing so in a gradual fashion with lower-risk activities and new safeguards lessens the impact and allows health officials to monitor the effects of each phase.
June 18th Health Order: Allows Outdoor Dining, Retail, Religious and Fitness Activities -- but Caution Urged
Parallel health orders in effect on Friday June 19 allow people in Berkeley and the rest of Alameda County to attend religious ceremonies, dine with others in their “social bubble” at restaurants with outdoor seating, and go inside retail stores.
The orders will also allow groups of 12 to take part in outdoor non-contact fitness classes and non-contact athletic training for college teams. A previous order allowed children to have both a household bubble as well as a bubble for extracurricular activities, such as sports.
Each business or group will be required to put measures into place to limit spread of COVID-19, which has no vaccine or proven medical treatment and is particularly lethal to those over 65 and those with high-risk conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.
Dr. Hernandez and other health officials recommend that everyone should take these steps during this pandemic:
- Staying home remains the safest place to be, especially for vulnerable groups
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water -- or hand sanitizer as a last resort
- Keep six feet apart from those outside your household
- Wear a face covering when outside
- If worried about infection, get tested -- regardless of symptoms.
Everyone should assess the risks for themselves or their households when taking part in additional activities. Reduce risk by being outdoors, having shorter activities, and using merchants that visibly abide by protocols.
The rules being put into place by the two Public Health jurisdictions closely align with state guidance. Merchants should see our streamlined process for getting permits for commerce in sidewalks and streets and for creating parklets.
All retail stores are now allowed to operate as long as they follow guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. They are encouraged to make goods available for curbside pickup.
Retailers operating indoors must have enough space so that patrons and staff can be six feet apart and no more than 50 percent of normal occupancy.
All stores must make reasonable efforts to ensure that staff and customers wear face coverings, and comply with social distancing intervals, such as marking six foot intervals for customers to stand in line at pickup areas.
Stores may move goods outside for display or sale -- as long as they get appropriate City permits and do not cause congestion or block the path of travel.
Merchants must also comply with state guidance for retailers.
Restaurants can now serve sit-down meals outside as long as they have the required City permits and follow state guidance. Groups of six people who are part of a social bubble together can go out for a meal together and must wear masks, except when eating.
Tables and lounge areas must be arranged so that there is at least six feet between people of different social bubbles. Entertainment is not allowed.
Restaurants that have been closed for at least a month will have to comply with a number of regulations, the specifics of which can be seen in the order.
All restaurants must sanitize areas that have not been used, post their Site-Specific Protection Protocol, follow the state General Checklist for Dine-in Restaurants, and designate a COVID-19 supervisor, who is on site during business hours and in charge to ensure the implementation of the food facilities’ Site-Specific Protection Plan.
Lines for curbside pickup or takeaway must be in a separate area that prevents them from accessing the outdoor dining area.
Please see the full Health Order for details.
Places of Worship
Mosques, churches, temples and other places of worship may hold in-person religious services and cultural ceremonies as long as they follow state guidance. Livestreaming services are still encouraged as in-person religious services and cultural ceremonies can involve extended periods of close contact -- increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Services or ceremonies may not exceed 100 attendees or 25 percent of the building’s capacity, whichever is less. Organizers should consider keeping contact information for event attendees for 21 days. That would allow city, county or regional contact tracers to reach people should an outbreak occur in these settings.
Non-contact outdoor fitness classes and college sports training
College sports teams as well as outdoor fitness classes can now hold non-contact practices or classes, respectively, in groups of 12 athletes or participants. One coach or instructor may also be present.
Everyone must wear a face covering, except when participating in high-intensity aerobic activities. Participants must keep at least six feet apart at all times. No equipment may be shared and should be sanitized after each practice, class or use.
Class operators must get permission from private owners or managers of the outdoor space. Locker rooms, weight rooms, or other indoor facilities may not be used at this time.
Everyone has a role in keeping our community safe
Increased activities and movements will lead to more COVID-19 cases. Doing so in a gradual fashion lessens the impact and allows health officials to monitor the effects of each phase.
City of Berkeley COVID-19 Tests
Tests are by appointment only. Make an appointment online to be tested at the State of California testing site in south Berkeley.
You'll need to complete a brief questionnaire and create an account. When you've completed your registration, you will receive a patient ID number. You'll need this number to log in and schedule your test.
After logging in, you can make an appointment in Berkeley or at any other State testing facility. The test site is located at:
MLK, Jr. Youth Services Center
1730 Oregon St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
You can also register by phone. Call 888-634-1123.
Wear a face covering when you visit the test site.
If you are struggling to pay rent due to COVID-19, you are protected by Berkeley’s emergency eviction moratorium–but you must notify your landlord no more than 7 days after your rent is due. A template is available here. More information is available here.
Relief for Local Businesses and Organizations
The Berkeley Relief Fund has awarded $1.7 million to 352 businesses and 47 arts organizations to help them withstand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Berkeleyside wrote an article about the allocation that can be read about here. There is going to be another round of funding available for arts and businesses so stayed tuned for more information. If you would like to contribute to the Berkeley Relief Fund, you can make a donation on the website.
How to Help
Donate Masks, Gloves, Hygiene Supplies, Goggles, New Thermometers, etc.
If you have personal protective equipment to donate to our firefighters, nurses, police, and others on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, please fill out this form. For more information, click here.
You can donate blood at 6230 Claremont Ave. In Oakland. Please check with the Red Cross website to see if appointments are available before visiting.
Help Vulnerable Members of Our Community
A few neighborhood groups have created websites to help high risk neighbors in need by pairing them with lower-risk individuals (please keep in mind that everyone is at risk). Please visit berkeleymutualaid.org if you would like to volunteer or need help. Another nonprofit aimed towards helping vulnerable people is Helping Hands.
Support Nonprofits and Berkeley Businesses and Arts Organizations
Donate to the Berkeley Relief Fund. We will be doing another round of funding applications.
Support Healthcare Workers
East Bay FeedER helps feed individuals working in hospitals.