June 19, 2020

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.

Retail Stores

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. 

Outdoor Dining

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 Budget 

As I have noted before, Council is addressing a budget deficit of $28.7 million in FY 2021. To resolve this General Fund shortfall, departments worked to identify General Fund savings that represent 10%, 12%, and 15% of their FY 2021 General Fund budget. Council has been reviewing these proposed deferrals for several weeks. You can look at the proposed budget deferrals here

On June 30th, Council will adopt a FY2021 Budget. Prior to that, there is one more meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee (6/25) and one Council work session on the budget (6/23). Agendas for these meetings have not yet been posted but Council will discuss the proposed budget deferrals along with other new proposals for consideration,

UC Berkeley Announces Plans for Fall Semester

UC Berkeley plans to offer a hybrid model of learning to accommodate students in the fall semester. This includes limited in-person classes for students who wish to come to campus, and remote class offerings. Read the full announcement here

Virtual Town Hall on Race, Policing, & Health in a Time of Pandemic - Watch the Recording 

If you were not able to join us virtually, you can watch a recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_s5rtcAJYg 

Food Assistance for Families With Children who are Eligible for Free or Reduced-Price Meals 

California provides pandemic food assistance (P-EBT) for families with children who qualify for free/reduced price meals. Families who have not received P-EBT by 5/22 must apply online before 6/30! Learn more here

Fire Safety Town Hall - Watch the Recording

Last week I participated in our annual Fire Safety Virtual Town Hall. If you weren’t able to join us virtually, you can watch the meeting online here: 


Many thanks to Councilmember Susan Wengraf for providing this vital fire safety information to members of our community.


Please SIGN UP for City of Berkeley emails here. Recommendations may change rapidly. Please remember to get public health information from official public health channels and not social media posts.

Lori Droste
Berkeley City Councilmember, District 8