Several Northern California counties this week extended their shelter-in-place orders while loosening certain rules that affect rental housing.
The revised orders lift some restrictions on certain low-risk activities, including construction, outdoor businesses, and residential moves.
The health officers for Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Francisco and Marin counties, plus the city of Berkeley, issued new orders Wednesday. These orders take effect May 4, after the current health orders expire.
The new orders will allow housing construction to proceed with certain safety protocols. Previously, housing projects in the seven jurisdictions could only continue if 10% of the units were income-restricted.
The counties also cleared the way for tenants to move in or out of units without restriction. Previously, the orders allowed moves only under certain circumstances, such as it being impossible to defer a move that’s already planned, or if the move was necessitated by safety, sanitation, or habitability reasons, or if the move was necessary to preserve access to shelter. A prohibition on in-person showings of occupied units remains in place.
Outdoor businesses, such as landscaping services, are carved out of the new orders, but it’s not clear whether such businesses will be able to resume under the state’s stay-at-home order issued on March 19.
The orders of the Bay Area governments will stay in effect through May 31.
Sacramento County also extended its health order on Wednesday, with restrictions staying in place through May 22.
The new order for Sacramento County doesn’t lift the limitations on residential moves or outdoor businesses. A limited exception was already in place, though, for arborists, landscapers, gardeners and similar service professionals. Sacramento County also included construction as an essential business previously. The new order allows in-person showings of occupied units but requires social-distancing.
Los Angeles County will likely take similar steps to extend but ease its stay-at-home order before it expires on May 15, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
These moves come amid growing frustration by many with the stay-at-home orders. The past weeks have brought increasing public criticism of the orders, including a protest at the State Capitol on April 20 that drew more than 500 demonstrators, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Some local governments are allowing their orders to expire. El Dorado County announced on April 28 that it would not extend its shelter-in-place order. Placer County followed suit the next day. A press release on the decision cited “removing any confusion over areas of difference” between the state and local orders as the reason.