The gradual reopening of the Bay Area economy will continue next week with new health orders permitting curbside pickup retail shopping in Alameda and Contra Costa counties as soon as Tuesday — as long as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations don’t spike over the weekend.
Erica Pan and Chris Farnitano, Alameda County and Contra Costa County’s respective health officers, told The Chronicle on Friday that they expect to issue orders Monday allowing for curbside pickup at all retail businesses beginning Tuesday. That would leave Santa Clara County as the only one of the Bay Area’s nine counties still banning curbside retail business.
The health officers said they waited two weeks since the last easing of restrictions, which allowed construction and other outdoor activities to resume May 4, before issuing new orders. They wanted to make sure that case counts remained stable over that time, and they have so far.
Figures collected by The Chronicle show that the number of cases in Alameda and Contra Costa counties remain relatively flat or are decreasing. Alameda had 331 cases over the past week compared with 317 the previous seven days, an increase of 4.4%. Contra Costa had 86 cases over the past week compared with 108 the previous seven days, a decrease of 20.4%.
“We’re continuing to look at our indicators every day,” Farnitano said. “And right now, our cases and hospitalizations are trending in the right direction. We’ll relook at things on Monday and if we are continuing to make progress and we’re not seeing signs of a new surge, then we’re preparing to open up the curbside retail within a day. We’re most likely prepared to put out an order on Monday that would go into effect Tuesday.”
Pan said health officials are “feeling pretty comfortable” that it’s safe to expand the number of businesses that are allowed to open.
“Overall, I feel like things are relatively stable,” she said. “We acknowledge that we need to slowly and carefully allow for things to resume.”
Santa Clara County officials confirmed Friday that they have no immediate plans to allow curbside retail businesses to reopen.
Despite the easing of restrictions on retail business, no Bay Area counties have met Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines for the phase 2 reopening, which would allow a quicker resumption of business for dine-in restaurants, stores, shopping malls and other businesses, while advising people to heed shelter-in-place mandates and social-distancing guidelines.
Shoppers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties still won’t be allowed inside stores to browse or buy, and all transactions, including payments, will have to be conducted online or outside. In most cases, customers will have to place orders on the internet or over the phone before picking up merchandise in person.
In other California counties that have permitted retail pickups, workers and shoppers must wear face coverings. The number of workers inside the stores will be limited based on the size of the business.