Compared to the first stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders enacted in March, there are some plot twists to the latest stay-at-home order. The order, authored by the state, will take effect in Monterey County at 10pm, Sunday, Dec. 13, and last through the holidays until at least Monday, Jan. 11.
It’s not accurate to call it a “shutdown,” since not everything is shutting down. Monterey County health officer Edward Moreno told reporters on Dec. 9 shortly after announcing the new order, as public health officials have learned more about how the Covid-19 virus is transmitted they’ve been able to make more strategic decisions about which restrictions to impose. For example, non-essential retail that had to shut down in March is staying open as long as capacity is limited.
The driving force behind these decisions is reducing the opportunities for transmission of the virus. That means keeping the mixing of households down to a minimum and ceasing all non-essential travel within and outside of the county. (Travel within the county for physical heath is allowed.)
Another plot twist: We're not supposed to meet with friends and family from other households—even outside. Masked and outdoor exercise classes and other outdoor activities like golf, sport fishing boats and whale watching tours are OK, as long as operators and exercise leaders make sure people are maintaining physical distancing guidelines and everyone wears a mask.
Those patio gatherings or walking meetups with friends and family from another household? Not allowed for at least the next four weeks. Signing up with friends and family for an outdoor yoga class or go whale watching? Sure, as long as you stay six feet apart and wear masks.
State officials are encouraging people to be as physically active as possible for both physical and mental health benefits. In Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement on Dec. 3, he presented a long list of outdoor activities people may engage in: walking, running, hiking, fishing, skiing and more were highlighted.
Here's a breakdown of what Monterey County residents and businesses can and cannot do organized by locations and types of activities. If transmission rates continue to rise and hospitals are full, the end date of the order will be pushed out further. As Moreno pointed out, it’s up to the public to do their part to stop the spread of Covid-19 so businesses and activities may reopen in the future.
Bars, breweries and distilleries: Closed to in-person consumption of beverages and food. Retail sales of sealed containers are allowed. To-go cocktails are allowed with sale of take-out meals.
Dentists: Open to both non-urgent and urgent patients.
Gyms and exercise studios: Outdoor exercise classes only.
Hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and other personal care services: Closed.
Hotels and lodging: Essential travelers only. All non-essential travel is not allowed during the order.
Libraries: Curbside pickup may continue. (Check for limited holiday hours.)
Medical care: Open to both non-urgent and urgent care.
Offices: Work remotely if possible.
Outdoor recreational areas, State Parks, and National Parks: No overnight camping in state and federal campgrounds is allowed, but day use is open. State and federal parks officials are encouraging people not to travel long distances to parks, however. Visiting parks within the county is OK. Private campgrounds and RV parks remain open, as they provide a place for people to shelter who may not have another residence, as well as selling essential items like propane, gas and groceries.
Parks and Playgrounds: Parks are open. At first outdoor playgrounds were set to be ordered to close, but state officials reversed themselves a few days later. Some cities are keeping their playgrounds closed, however, like the cities of Monterey and Salinas. Indoor playgrounds are definitely closed.
Places of Worship: Outdoor services only.
Protests: Allowed, wear facial coverings and remain physically distant.
Retail and Food Stores: Unlike in March when non-essential retail stores had to close, they get to stay open along with essential retail businesses, as long as they keep indoor capacity to 20 percent. Indoor malls are also allowed to stay open at up to 20-percent capacity, but no food may be consumed indoors. Stand-alone grocery stores, which recently have been allowed 50-percent capacity, must limit themselves to 35 percent.
Restaurants: We’re back to take-out and deliveries only. Outdoor dining is considered risky because people from multiple households are gathering and removing their masks for extended periods, Moreno said. It creates opportunities for the virus to spread.
Schools: Schools with waivers remain open.
Swimming pools: Outdoor only.
Wineries and wine tasting rooms: No in-person tastings but retail sales allowed, as well as take-out if they serve food. Tasting rooms are preparing to again operate as bottle shops.
As for enforcement, technically violating the order could be "punishable by fine and as a misdemeanor, revocation of a business license, or court-imposed penalties," according to the state's guidelines. Each jurisdiction will decide how to approach enforcement. Since the beginning of the pandemic Monterey County officials and city officials have taken an education-first approach in achieving compliance.