April 17, 2020 – Outdoor activity is vital for well-being and has always been considered essential. Outdoor activity must be done safely, however. Last week’s local health order has now been amended to allow some outdoor businesses and activities to resume and outdoor spaces to reopen under specific safety criteria provided by Public Health. These criteria ensure that activity is conducted in a safe manner that minimizes opportunities to transmit coronavirus by preventing gathering and touching of shared surfaces. Read more at www.placer.ca.gov/coronavirus/guidance. The State of California and counties are beginning to consider what a path forward could look like in terms of thoughtfully and safely modifying stay-at-home policies. But for now, it’s important to keep in place the measures that have helped us flatten the curve.

Placer County Health Officer Order (amended April 16) and accompanying Physical Distancing Protocol template for businesses (April 10) plus signage example for essential businesses (April 14)

Face covering recommendation (April 2)

State Executive Order (March 19) & “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” list (March 20)

FAQs on county and state orders

Details of Placer County Order:

  1. All individuals currently living within Placer County, including its incorporated cities and town, and the entire unincorporated area, are directed to shelter at their place of residence. This means stay home.
    • In addition to homes and apartments, residences include hotels, motels, shared rental units, and similar facilities.
    • If a residence includes spaces shared with other households, such as a common patio, laundry room, or lobby, persons should stay at least six feet from any other person when using these spaces.
    • Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this section of the Order, but are strongly urged to obtain shelter, and governmental and other entities are strongly urged to make such shelter available while maintaining six feet of spacing between persons.  
  2. All persons may leave their residences only to perform Essential Activities, to receive or perform Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses, as defined below.
  3. People at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and people who are sick should stay in their residence and limit their activity to seeking medical care.
  4. All public and private gatherings of any number of people not part of a single household or living unit are prohibited, except for the limited purposes listed in this Order.
  5. All businesses with a facility in the County, except Essential Businesses as defined below, are required to cease activities at facilities located within the County except Minimum Basic Operations, as defined below. Businesses may continue operations consisting exclusively of owners, employees, volunteers, or contractors working from home. All Essential Businesses are strongly encouraged to remain open, but to maximize the number of employees working remotely. Essential Businesses may only assign an employee to work outside the home if the employee cannot perform their job duties from home. All Essential Businesses shall prepare, post, and implement a Physical Distancing Protocol at each of their operating facilities. Businesses that include an Essential Business component alongside non-essential components must scale down their operations to the Essential Business component only.
  6. All travel, including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit, except Essential Travel as defined below, is prohibited. People may use public transit only for purposes of performing Essential Activities or to travel to and from work to operate Essential Businesses or maintain Essential Governmental Functions. People riding on public transit must maintain six feet of space between others, to the greatest extent feasible. This Order allows travel into or out of the County to perform Essential Activities, operate Essential Businesses, maintain Essential Governmental Functions, or perform Minimal Basic Operations at non-essential businesses.
  7. All individuals shall maintain good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, along with physical distancing. This includes the following:
    • Maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance from others not in their household, except to the limited extent necessary to provide care; to carry out the work of Essential Businesses, Essential Government Functions, or provide for Minimum Basic Operations; or as otherwise expressly provided in this Order.
    • Frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol;
    • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or fabric, or into the sleeve or elbow;
    • Consider wearing a face covering when outside their residence and it is not possible to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others; and
    • Avoiding all physical interaction outside the household when sick with a fever or cough.

Definition of Essential Activities: 

Essential Activities include:

  1. Maintaining the health and safety of oneself and their family or household members (including pets). This includes, but is not limited to, obtaining medical supplies or medication, or visiting Health Care Operations.
  2. Obtaining necessary services or supplies for oneself and their family or household members, or delivering those services or supplies to others. This includes, but is not limited to, obtaining canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, other household consumer products, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.
  3. Engaging in outdoor recreation activity, such as walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, provided six feet of spacing is maintained between people who are not members of the same household and with the following limitations:
    • Outdoor recreation activity at parks, beaches, and other open spaces must conform with any restrictions of access and use established by the Health Officer, government, or other entity that manages such an area to reduce crowding and risk of transmission of COVID-19.
    • Use of recreational areas with high-touch equipment or that encourage gathering, is prohibited outside of residences. These include, but are not limited to, playgrounds, outdoor gym equipment, picnic areas, dog parks, and barbeque areas. All such areas shall be closed to the public by signage and/or physical barriers. Dog parks may remain open if seating areas are closed, hand sanitizer is provided at the entrance/exit (or users bring their own hand sanitizer), and users bring their own water and waste bags.
    • Use of shared facilities for recreational activities outside of residences is prohibited. These include, but are not limited to, golf courses, tennis, pickleball, basketball, and volleyball courts, climbing walls, pools, and spas shooting and archery ranges, and disc golf. These areas shall be closed for recreational use by signage and/or physical barriers. Golf courses and outdoor shooting and archery ranges may remain open if they follow guidance provided by the Health Officer available at: placer.ca.gov/coronavirus/guidance. Disc golf courses may remain open if no contact is made with baskets. Tennis, pickleball, basketball, and volleyball courts may remain open for use by members of the same household only.  
    • Sports or activities that involve the use of shared equipment, such as balls, may only be engaged in by members of the same household.
  4. Performing work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Order, including Minimum Basic Operations.
  5. Caring for a family member or pet in another household.
  6. To attend a funeral with no more than 10 individuals present.
  7. To move residences, but only if it is not possible to defer an already planned move, the move is necessary for health and safety reasons, or the move is necessary to remain housed, or retain employment.

Definition of Essential Businesses:

Essential Businesses include:

  1. Health Care Operations and Essential Infrastructure, as defined below;
  2. Blood donation and related activities;
  3. Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of unprepared food, canned food, dry goods, non-alcoholic beverages, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, as well as hygienic products and household consumer products necessary for personal hygiene or the habitability, sanitation, and operation of residences. This includes stores that sell multiple categories of products provided that they sell a significant amount of essential products identified above, such as liquor stores that also sell a significant amount of food. 
  4. Agriculture, food, and beverage cultivation, processing, and distribution, including, but not limited to, farming, ranching, fishing, milk and cheese production, winemaking, and brewing of beer and cider, in order to preserve inventory and production and for personal consumption and use, and wholesale or retail sale of such products. On-site consumption at wineries and breweries is not allowed under this Order. 
  5. Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
  6. Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
  7. Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities, including automotive dealerships, but only for the purpose of providing auto-supply and auto-repair services, and not for car sales or car washes. Online purchases of automobiles is allowed if they are delivered to a residence or Essential Business;
  8. Bicycle repair and supply shops;
  9. Banks and related financial institutions;
  10. Service providers that enable residential transactions such as rentals, leases, and home sales, including, but not limited to, real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries, and title companies, provided that appointments and residential viewings occur only virtually. If a virtual viewing is not feasible, viewings may occur by appointment with no more than two visitors who reside in the same household and one individual showing the unit at a time, and only if the unit is vacant, or the occupant has provided express written consent for the showing, and aside from walking no surfaces are touched during the showing;
  11. Hardware stores;
  12. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the habitability, sanitation, and operation of residences and Essential Businesses. This does not include cosmetic or other purposes;
  13. Arborists, landscapers, gardeners, and similar service professionals, provided physical distancing practices are maintained throughout service and payment, any shared equipment is cleaned between users, and crew members who are not members of the same household do not travel in the same vehicle; but only to the extent necessary to maintain the habitability, sanitation, and operation of residences and Essential Businesses or the safety of residents, employees, or the public, and not for cosmetic purposes. Routine maintenance such as lawn mowing is cosmetic and therefore non-essential under this Order;  
  14. Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
  15. Educational institutions—including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
  16. Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
  17. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take-away basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site;
  18. Funeral home providers, mortuaries, cemeteries, and crematoriums, to the extent necessary for the transport, preparation, or processing of bodies or remains;
  19. Businesses that supply other Essential Businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate, but only to the extent that they support or supply these Essential Businesses. This exemption shall not be used as a basis for engaging in sales to the general public from retail storefronts;
  20. Businesses that have the primary function of shipping or delivering groceries, food, or other goods directly to residences or businesses. This exemption shall not be used to allow for manufacturing or assembly of non-essential products or for other functions besides those necessary to the delivery operation;
  21. Firearm and ammunition retailers; 
  22. Airlines, taxis, rental car companies, rideshare services, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;
  23. Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
  24. Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
  25. Professional services, such as legal, notary, or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities;
  26. Services to assist individuals in finding employment with Essential Businesses;
  27. Moving services that facilitate residential or commercial moves that are permitted under this Order;
  28. Childcare facilities providing services that enable owners, employees, volunteers, and contractors for Essential Businesses or Essential Governmental Functions to work as permitted. Children of owners, employees, volunteers, and contractors who are not exempt under this Order may not attend childcare facilities. Childcare facilities must operate under the following conditions:
    • Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer (stable means that the same children are in the same group each day).
    • Children shall not change from one group to another.
    • If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room. Groups shall not mix with each other.
    • Childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children.
    • Persons should remain six feet apart whenever feasible.
  29. Long-term rentals for periods of one month or longer for existing rentals and for rentals accommodating moves permitted by this Order.  Short-term rental units (as defined in County Code) are not permitted to operate for commercial purposes and may continue to operate only for the following limited purposes:
    • To provide COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures (for example, isolation and quarantine or the housing of displaced or homeless persons)
    • To provide housing for owners, employees, volunteers, and contractors of Essential Businesses, individuals providing Essential Infrastructure services, and persons performing Essential Governmental Functions.

For the purposes of this Order, a business includes any for-profit, non-profit, or educational entity, whether a corporate entity, organization, partnership or sole proprietorship, regardless of the nature of the service it provides, the function it performs, or its corporate or entity structure.

All Essential Businesses must prepare and post a Physical Distancing Protocol no later than 11:59 p.m. on April 13 for each of their facilities in the County frequented by the public or employees. The Physical Distancing Protocol must follow the format of the form in Appendix A of this Order. The Protocol must be posted at or near the entrance of the relevant facility, and shall be easily viewable by the public and employees. A copy of the Protocol must also be provided to each employee, volunteer, and contractor performing work at the facility. All Essential Businesses shall implement their Protocol and provide evidence of implementation upon request to any authority enforcing this Order. The Protocol must explain how the business is achieving the following, as applicable:

  1. Limiting the number of people who can enter into the facility at any one time to ensure that people in the facility can easily maintain a minimum 6-foot distance from one another at all times, except as required to complete the Essential Business activity;
  2. Where lines may form at a facility, marking 6-foot increments at a minimum, establishing were individuals should stand to maintain adequate physical distancing;
  3. Providing soap and water, hand sanitizer, or effective disinfectant at or near the entrance of the facility and in other appropriate areas for use by customers and employees, and in locations where there is high-frequency employee interaction with members of the public, such as at check-out;
  4. Providing for payment systems that do not require contact, or if this is not feasible, providing for disinfection of all payment portals, pens, and styluses after each use;
  5. Regularly disinfecting other high-touch surfaces;
  6. Posting a sign at the entrance of the facility informing all employees and customers that they should not enter if they have a cough or fever, should stay at least 6 feet away from others, should cough or sneeze into their sleeve, should not shake hands, and should not engage in any unnecessary physical contact; and
  7. Any additional physical distancing measures being implemented.

Definition of Minimum Basic Operations:

Minimum Basic Operations include the following, provided that employees comply with six-foot spacing between persons while carrying out such operations whenever feasible:

  1. The minimum necessary activities to maintain and protect the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, safety, and sanitation, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.
  2. The minimum necessary activities to facilitate owners, employees, and contractors of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences and to ensure that the business can deliver its service remotely.

Definition of Health Care Operations:

Health Care Operations include hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, health care suppliers, home health care services providers, mental health providers, public health, or any related and/or ancillary health care services. Health Care Operations also include veterinary care and all health care services provided to animals. Health Care Operations does not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities, nor does it include barbering, the beauty industry, and grooming of pets for cosmetic purposes.

Definition of Essential Infrastructure:

Essential Infrastructure includes, but is not limited to, public works construction; construction of housing (in particular affordable housing or housing for individuals experiencing homelessness); construction of commercial buildings already underway at the time of this Order; construction and maintenance of hospitals, medical service buildings, and educational facilities; emergency repair construction; airport operations; water, sewer, gas, and electrical operations; oil refining; operation and maintenance of roads and highways; public transportation; solid waste collection and removal; and the operations and maintenance of internet and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services); provided that they carry out those services or that work while maintaining six feet of distance between persons whenever feasible.

Definition of Essential Governmental Functions:

Essential Government Functions are defined by the governmental entity performing those functions. Each governmental entity shall identify and designate appropriate employees or contractors to continue providing and carrying out any Essential Governmental Functions. All Essential Governmental Functions shall be performed in compliance with six-foot social distancing requirements whenever feasible. All first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, and law enforcement personnel, and others who need to perform essential services are categorically exempt from this Order to the extent they are performing those Essential Government Functions. In addition, all Brown Act meetings of the legislative body, as defined in the Brown Act, of all public agencies within Placer County are deemed Essential Governmental Functions and are categorically exempt from this Order. Legislative bodies should consider implementation of remote attendance measures when feasible in light of waived Brown Act requirements as a result of the Governor’s Executive Orders.  

Definition of Essential Travel:

Essential Travel includes travel for any of the following purposes, and must comply with six-foot spacing between persons:

  1. Any travel related to the provision of or access to Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, Essential Businesses, or Minimum Basic Operations.
  2. Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
  3. Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services.
  4. Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the County.
  5. Travel required by law enforcement or court order.
  6. Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the County. Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their transportation out of the County remains available and functional prior to commencing such travel.
  7. Travel to manage after-death arrangements and burial.
  8. Travel to arrange for shelter or avoid homelessness.
  9. Travel to avoid domestic violence or child abuse or neglect.
  10. Travel for parental custody arrangements.
  11. Travel to a place to temporarily reside in a residence or other facility to avoid exposing others to COVID-19, such as to a hotel or other facility provided by a governmental authority for such a purpose.

This Order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 10, 2020 and will continue to be in effect until 11:59 p.m. on May 1, 2020, or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Health Officer.

Additional Recommendations For All Residents:

  • Stay home except as outlined in the above order.
  • Regularly wash hands with liquid soap and water, and rub for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces touched by many people at least daily.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cloth face coverings – such as a bandana, scarf or homemade cloth cover – are now recommended when leaving the house for essential activities to further slow the spread of COVID-19. The new recommendation comes after increasing evidence that transmission of the virus can occur as early as three days before people develop symptoms. But health officials stress that face coverings should be used in tandem with, not in place of, other strategies.

Sick Persons:

  • Everyone should stay home if they are sick until:
    • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); AND,
    • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • Individuals with cold-like symptoms should manage their symptoms at home with over-the-counter drugs whenever possible, regardless of whether they have a cold, the flu, or COVID-19.
  • Individuals who develop difficulty breathing, feel extremely tired, or were feeling better but then feel a lot worse should call their health care provider. If they will be going to the provider’s office or urgent care center, they should call ahead so that the health care provider can be prepared to care for them.
  • People should only call 911 or go to an emergency department if they believe that their life is in imminent danger. Other emergencies are still occurring, and emergency resources must be available to address all of them, not just COVID-19.

Exposed Persons: 

  • If someone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19, the entire household should stay home for at least two weeks.
  • If you were in close contact (within six feet for about 10 minutes or more) with a person confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19, you should stay home for at least two weeks and monitor yourself every day for fever or respiratory symptoms.

An exception to this voluntary quarantine would be a health care worker or first responder. These critical workers are being closely monitored by their employers for symptoms.


Testing for COVID-19 is now available through commercial labs. However, just because a test is available does not mean that it is necessary for most people.

Until testing capacity increases and more health care facilities are able to collect specimens while protecting patients and health care workers from exposure, people who have mild symptoms do not need to get tested. See guidance under “Sick Persons” above.