OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Alameda County has set a new date to allow additional activities and loosen restrictions of the county's health orders to allow, among other activities, outdoor dining, religious services, and both indoor and outdoor retail.
Beginning June 19, the county health officer would relax current restrictions as part of Alameda County's reopening plan, aligning with the guidance from the State of California. Alameda County would be the last among Bay Area counties to allow outdoor dining.
The relaxed health orders come even as Alameda County currently has reported the most coronavirus cases in the Bay Area, surpassing what was the most hardest hit county, Santa Clara, last month. As of Friday afternoon, Alameda County has reported a total of 4,216 coronavirus cases (106 more than the previous day), with a total of 109 deaths (one more than the previous day).
Starting next Friday, indoor and outdoor retail, as well as outdoor dining, would be allowed at a reduced capacity to ensure physical distancing, although residents and businesses are still strongly urged to focus on pickup and delivery options to limit lines and crowd sizes. Restaurants will be expected to work with the county's Department of Environmental Health and their respective cities on their outdoor operation plans.
Indoor religious services will be allowed for up to 100 people, or less than 25 percent the building's capacity, whichever is lower. At the same time, houses of worship were strongly recommended to continue virtual services especially for high-risk congregants, provide outdoor services, or limit attendance to 25 people.
Outdoor museums and outdoor fitness activities would also now be allowed starting next Friday.
Employers were advised to implement health screenings for their workers before they begin a shift, while employees will be required to complete a self-assessment to make sure they do not arrive to work sick or after having been exposed to the coronavirus.
"The indicators we monitor to determine if we should continue moving forward through reopening are stable or improving," said Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan in a prepared statement. "We will continue to have more cases, but the steady increase in hospitalizations and the steep increase in the case rate we were seeing in late May has slowed and the hospitalizations have stabilized. We are also making significant progress in expanding and improving the efficiency of our contact tracing teams."
The last update to Alameda County's health orders went into effect on June 8, and the county said it expects to loosen restrictions in 2-4 week increments as per its Reopening Plan.
"I'm glad to see that we can take this step forward as a county," said District 1 Supervisor Scott Haggerty in a statement. "It's important to have parity across our small and large businesses, as well as across the region. The health of Alameda County residents is paramount and I'm confident that our restaurants, retailers and faith communities will prioritize the safety of their staff, customers, and community."
Business operating under the new health orders must complete a Site-Specific Protection Plan template and implement risk assessment and individual control measures, physical distancing, disinfecting and cleaning protocols, and employee training to prevent the spread of COVID-19. More guidance will be available early next week on Alameda County's COVID-19 recovery website.
"We're balancing the economic and spiritual health of our community with public health," said District 4 Supervisor Nate Miley in a statement. "These openings, including the services industries, may disproportionately affect our already burdened communities of color, and we will need to be mindful of protecting everyone's health while we're out and about."
The health department also reminded residents, employers and workers that the pandemic is still in its first wave and to continue taking precautions to limit the spread of the virus.
"Next week's action to allow additional activities outside of the home relies heavily on all of us continuing the consistent use of face coverings, maintaining physical distancing, and practicing good hand hygiene," said Colleen Chawla, Alameda County Health Care Services Agency Director in a statement. "These measures ensure that we are not only protecting ourselves and our families, but also the frontline workers in the businesses we will enjoy."
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