December 5 2020

On Friday, regional health officers determined that the Bay Area needed to act quickly to avoid widespread hospitalizations. Consequently, Berkeley and other jurisdictions are adopting the state’s health orders before we get to the 15% ICU threshold. I understand this will be a hard month for so many people. While this is serious and sad entering into a holiday season, we must remain determined in trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I know that it’s tough—my own kids miss their friends and grandparents. We all miss spending time in the neighborhood at our favorite restaurants, stores, or coffee shops (please still support them!). If we can get through these next few weeks, we will be better off in 2021. Thank you for your perseverance during this challenging time.

Stay safe,

Please see the City of Berkeley’s message below. 

A surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations is pushing six Bay Area Health Officers to quickly align with new State orders limiting certain activities that could further escalate the already rapid spread of the virus.

In Alameda County alone, the number of people hospitalized countywide for COVID-19 has almost quadrupled over the past 7 weeks, from 52 to 206. The virus’s explosive growth, even without including an anticipated surge due to Thanksgiving gatherings, will further endanger the region unless collective action is taken.

The emergency, temporary measures outlined in the state order affect industries ranging from restaurants, which will be limited to take-out and delivery, to hair salons and personal care services, which will have to close. Everyone who can telecommute must do so to protect those who cannot.

These orders, which go into effect in Berkeley early Monday. December 7, also require every household to take steps: stay home as much as possible, choose low-risk activities when you do go out and limit how many of those you do. Face coverings and physical distancing remain crucial. You should not meet in person with anyone you don't live with - even a small group, even outdoors with precautions.

“We must act swiftly to save as many lives as we can,” said Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, the City of Berkeley Health Officer. “Each of us can fight the spread. Keep your family safe by avoiding even small gatherings outside of your household and not traveling. End of year gatherings are traditionally precious, but this year they could lead to sickness and worse.”

“Show all your loved ones your care by only celebrating with your own household.”

Temporary closures outlined in state rules

Local orders will last for four weeks, starting at 12:01am on Monday December 7 and ending at 11:59pm on January 4 in both Berkeley and the rest of Alameda County. The counties of Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara are also adopting the state rules on this accelerated pace.

The temporary closures include the following:

  • outdoor dining (take-out, pick-up, and delivery would still be permitted)
  • indoor and outdoor playgrounds
  • indoor recreational facilities
  • hair salons, barbershops and personal care services
  • museums, zoos, and aquariums
  • movie theaters
  • wineries, bars, breweries, and distilleries
  • family entertainment centers, cardrooms and satellite wagering
  • Limited services not included in critical infrastructure

Temporary limits to other sectors

The following sectors will need to implement additional modifications and ensure 100 percent masking and physical distancing:

  • Outdoor recreational facilities: permitted only without any food, drink, or alcohol sales. Overnight stays at campgrounds prohibited.
  • Retail and shopping centers: indoor operations permitted at 20% capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores.
  • Hotels and lodging: accepting reservations for non-essential out of state travel prohibited.
  • Offices: remote only, except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible.
  • Places of worship and political expression: Only outdoor services permitted.
  • Entertainment production including professional sports: operation permitted without live audiences.

Permitted to continue operating under state’s Regional Stay-At-Home-Order

The following sectors may remain open when a remote option is not possible, with appropriate COVID-19 preventative measures including ensuring 100 percent masking and physical distancing:

Quarantine urged for out of state travelers and their contacts

Anyone who travels out of the region – or who gathers with a traveler from outside the region – is strongly urged to quarantine for 14 days.

There is a high likelihood that travelers at this time will be exposed to COVID-19 and would bring it back to our community.

Gatherings with other households on temporary hold

All gatherings with members of other households are prohibited in the City of Berkeley, with limited exceptions:

  • Schools that are open and childcare providers may continue to operate.
  • Outdoor religious and cultural ceremonies may also continue.

Both of the above exceptions have specific restrictions, which people should examine in the City of Berkeley Health Order.

If you had a social bubble, COVID-19 has now popped it.

Being in community gives us meaning. For the next month, we are now tasked with finding ways to do so without being physically together. This easily spreading virus lurks among us at an unprecedented level, making even small, outdoor, masked gatherings unsafe.

“COVID-19 is posing its most dangerous threat yet in the pandemic,” said Dr. Hernandez. “Immediate, drastic action is needed to prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. We hope that these emergency measures combined with a rising tide of individual actions that prevent spread can save lives and allow businesses and activities to re-open much sooner.”


Joint press conference from Bay Area Health Officers announcing immediate implementation of State Regional Stay at Home Order, December 4, 2020